Schenectady County

Woman accuses Schenectady police, feds of illegal search

A Schenectady woman has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that city police and federal agents illegal

A city woman has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that city police and federal agents illegally searched her home looking for a drug ring suspect.

Penny Charland filed the suit last week in U.S. District Court alleging that police wrongly entered her Avenue B home Oct. 5, 2010, looking for drug suspect Mario Williams.

They had an arrest warrant, but not a search warrant, the suit alleges. But authorities proceeded to search the home anyway.

Charland relayed to police by phone that Williams no longer lived there and told them where to find him. They nonetheless entered the home, where there were four children, ages 4 to 15.

“Having provided the FBI with what they asked for (i.e. Mario Williams), and this having no effect on their siege of her house and her kids,” the suit reads, “Penny Lee Charland desperately continued to bargain with the FBI, who it seems, in retrospect, no longer had any interest in Mario Williams.”

Charland was en route from work. But the suit alleges that authorities illegally entered the home, telling the children they had to enter for their safety.

Once inside, though, the search expanded, looking in dresser drawers, plastic boxes and around stuffed toys. The suit notes plainly several times that none of the items were large enough to hide Williams.

Charland, the suit alleges, never gave consent for the search, in which nothing was found.

Williams, 31, eventually was picked up by authorities outside his attorney’s office on State Street, where Charland told them he’d be.

Williams was among 14 Schenectady residents and two others indicted in October 2010 for allegedly being part of a large local drug ring.

Authorities seized 18 long guns and four handguns from a Bradley Street address in one raid and more than 1.6 pounds of crack cocaine from a Kings Road address in March 2010, authorities said then.

Williams’ case remains pending.

Charland is named in the suit as a plaintiff, along with her children, identified by their initials.

Named as defendants are the city of Schenectady, officer Donald Kiser, an unknown officer and five unknown agents or officers of the U.S. Justice Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation and/or the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Contacted about the suit, city Corporation Counsel L. John Van Norden noted that the city was assisting the federal authorities in the raid on the federal case.

The city did receive a notice of claim earlier, Van Norden said.

It has since been turned over to the city’s insurance company and an attorney has been assigned.

Charland is being represented by Albany attorney Kevin E. Jones, who declined to comment Tuesday.

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