Members of the Johnstown Police Department are being sued by a bank manager who was arrested after destroying a forgotten bank card.
The suit contends police arrested Key Bank manager Janet Davis on a grand larceny charge after her employees destroyed the card, in compliance with Key Bank policy aimed at preventing fraud. The charge was later dismissed by prosecutors after it was found to be baseless.
In the lawsuit, Davis names as defendants the officer who arrested her, Kenneth Luft, as well as his supervisor, Sgt. John Rodriguez, Police Chief Mark Gifford and Fulton County resident Lois McRedmond, the woman identified as filing the original complaint.
Davis is alleging false arrest, malicious prosecution, along with violation of state law.
Representatives of the city or of the original complainant couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. No attorneys for them are yet listed.
Davis’ attorney, E. Robert Keach, said Wednesday that the arrest had no legitimate basis in fact or law, calling it “nothing more than bullying.”
“There was no crime committed here. The woman left her bank card in there. The bank destroyed the card pursuant to its written policies that have a very clear and appropriate basis,” Keach said, commenting on Davis’ behalf. “And trying to penalize a bank manager for the fact that her subordinates followed the policy of her bank is the hallmark of lack of accountability.”
Neither the city attorney nor the police chief returned messages left seeking comment Wednesday. A phone number listed for McRedmond was not working as of Wednesday.
According to the complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Albany, McRedmond, who does not have a Key Bank account, used her card in the bank’s ATM on either Feb. 8 or Feb. 9. She apparently left her card in the ATM when she drove away.
McRedmond realized she’d left her card and returned on Feb. 9 to retrieve it. By then, bank employees had discovered the forgotten card and destroyed it, which is the bank’s policy for forgotten non-member cards.
The suit contends McRedmond could have gotten another card from her card company within 24 hours, but she instead pursued police intervention.
Officer Luft responded and “confronted several bank employees in a rude and obnoxious manner, including threatening to arrest several employees of the bank in front of the bank’s customers,” the suit states.
Luft soon met with Davis, who explained the bank’s policy was enacted “to ensure that (the card) was not vulnerable to theft or other misconduct,” according to the lawsuit.
Davis’ supervisor also confirmed the policy to Luft.
Rodriguez, Luft’s supervisor, soon arrived at the bank, demanded a copy of the policy and told Davis she was under criminal investigation, the suit states.
McRedmond later signed a complaint and affidavit with allegations of criminal conduct.
“These sworn statements were used as a basis to arrest and prosecute Ms. Davis, even though Defendants Luft, Rodriguez and McRedmond knew that Ms. Davis did not steal the debit card, nor did she intend to deprive Ms. McRedmond of her property,” the suit states.
The lawsuit calls the incident “a textbook example of a false arrest and malicious prosecution.”
Police arrested Davis at her workplace Feb. 26. The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charge two months later, the suit states.
After the Feb. 9 interaction, and before her later arrest, Davis contacted police to file a complaint against Luft based on his conduct inside the bank, according to the lawsuit. She also contacted the police chief and mayor to discuss her situation.
Both declined to address Davis’ claims, representing a “ratification of the illegal conduct,” the suit states.
Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122, [email protected] or @ByStevenCook on Twitter.