Ex-forest ranger sues state police over traffic ticket in Northampton

Jury selection began Friday in State Supreme Court, where retired state Forest Ranger Daniel Singer

Jury selection began Friday in State Supreme Court, where retired state Forest Ranger Daniel Singer is suing the state police for false arrest and malicious prosecution following a July 2007 traffic stop in the town of Northampton.

Singer is seeking compensation of $25,000 from Trooper Casey Krul, who stopped him shortly before midnight that July 22 after he said Singer crossed over a fog line along the shoulder of the road as he was turning from Route 30 onto Mountain Road.

Singer said he was headed to St. Mary’s Hospital after receiving a message that his 97-year-old mother was near death.

Jury selection began Monday before Judge Richard T. Aulisi, who in June denied a motion by the office of state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to dismiss the suit.

In his ruling, Judge Aulisi said he would leave the issues to a jury because state courts have held that “merely crossing a white fog line is not a violation” of state vehicle and traffic law. Assistant Attorney General Kent Sprotbery argued in the motion to dismiss that Trooper Krul had probable cause to stop the vehicle.

Sprotbery informed the court in that motion that Singer was angry over the stop and, with an expletive, likened Krul to the Gestapo.

When the traffic case went to trial in Town Court in September 2007 it was dismissed. The lawsuit ensued.

The lawsuit, filed by Albany attorney Theodore Robinson, contends Singer suffered damages to his person, feelings, business and reputation as a result of being “arrested falsely during a period of time when he was going to see his dying mother.”

Singer asserts he was deprived of his liberty for about an hour “without reasonable cause, without authority to do so.”

During his career as a Department of Environmental Conservation forest ranger, Singer became well known for challenging the DEC administration.

In 2003, after he was already retired, Singer was on the other side in state Supreme Court, defending himself against a $1.5 million malicious prosecution suit filed against him by former Northampton Supervisor Willard Loveless, who coincidentally is a retired state trooper and investigator.

The case stemmed from one of Singer’s last actions as a forest ranger. He ticketed Loveless in 1997 for allegedly using a darker paint to cover the yellow paint used by DEC on trees to mark a state boundary line in the woods.

Singer filed the criminal mischief complaint in Northampton Town Court in defiance of orders from his superiors, who said there was insufficient evidence to accuse Loveless. Loveless’ lawyer said there was no evidence connecting Loveless to the incident.

Within weeks of Singer filing his complaint, then-state Attorney General Dennis Vacco intervened and was successful in getting the charge dismissed on the grounds of lack of evidence.

About the time that case was dismissed, Singer was suspended for six months. He won reinstatement and retired soon after, concluding a 34-year career with the DEC.

In the years preceding this incident, Singer published his own newsletter, which was often critical of local politicians, including Loveless.

Singer complained at the time that Vacco had a conflict because he had endorsed Loveless in an ultimately unsuccessful campaign for county sheriff.

Categories: Schenectady County

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