A jury determined Wednesday that Atlantic City's former police chief is entitled to more than $3 million -- and possibly more than that -- because he was wrongly targeted for demotion after trying to blow the whistle on misconduct.

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Jurors in the civil trial decided the city violated whistleblower protections when it sought to demote John Mooney to deputy chief.

Mooney retired in 2010 after 34 years rather than take a demotion when the city hired a public safety director. He claims the city used budget cuts as an excuse to target him.

Attorneys for the city argued Mooney was merely unhappy with his situation and that the decisions Mayor Lorenzo Langford and others made were within their rights.

The Press of Atlantic City reported that Mooney sued the city, claiming he was demoted in 2010 due to his reporting of what he believed was illegal interference by Mayor Lorenzo Langford and then-Public Safety Director Christine Petersen concerning police matters and internal investigations.

The jury agreed that Mooney's demotion to deputy chief was not part of budget cuts made three years ago that included cutting 60 police officers and 30 firefighters while demoting several others.

A message seeking comment from Langford's office was not immediately returned Wednesday.

The jury calculated that Mooney is owed $815,476 to fulfill the terms of his contract that ended Dec. 31, 2012, and more than $2.7 million he would have earned had he worked until reaching his retirement date.

The jury will next determine whether Mooney should be entitled to punitive damages in addition to the $3 million regarding Mooney's contract.


(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)