A local contractor filed suit against the city and its Police Department Tuesday, alleging that police falsely arrested him in July 2008 after he had a disagreement with a homeowner who wanted his money back.
James D. Derusha, 39, of East State Street, is seeking compensation of $100,000 plus interest after spending four days in jail on a charge of petty larceny.
Derusha, who is represented by Johnstown lawyer Robert Subik, accuses city police of intentionally inflicting emotional harm and slander.
Subik was not available for comment Tuesday, but when he filed a notice of claim in the case in September, he said that the matter was clearly civil in nature, rather than criminal, and that city police were warned of that interpretation before they came to Derusha’s house July 7 and arrested him.
The criminal case is still pending in City Court. Subik said in September that prosecutors offered Derusha a plea bargain in which he would be sentenced to probation.
Derusha was hired in May 2008 to perform some landscaping work at an Oakland Avenue home, Subik said. After Derusha began work, he said, the homeowner demanded changes and then told Derusha to leave the property. The homeowner — a local barber who Subik said has several police officers as customers — also demanded the return of about $400 already paid.
Subik said a police officer called Derusha and gave him 48 hours to return the money or face arrest.
Subik said a change in the scope of the project makes this a civil case that should have been worked out between the homeowner and Derusha.
Subik said Derusha and the homeowner formulated a handwritten contract in May.
Police spokesman Capt. James Lorenzoni said he cannot comment on pending litigation. Lorenzoni said the homeowner complained to police on May 28, 2008, and an arrest was not made until July.
“The allegations are that Mr. Derusha took hundreds of dollars for something that was never completed,” Lorenzoni said.
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Categories: News, Schenectady County