Court Rules in Favor of Roosevelt Man Who Claims He Was Falsely Arrested and Wrongfully Evicted From His Rented Home by Nassau Police

Case to be Slated for Trial
April 6, 2015

HEMPSTEAD, NEW YORK — The Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington has announced The United States District Court, Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn recently denied a summary judgment, allowing a lawsuit filed on behalf of Michael Smith to proceed to trial against Nassau County and several of its police officers. The lawsuit claims that Mr. Smith was wrongfully accused, stopped, detained, seized, falsely arrested, falsely imprisoned, abused, harassed, wrongfully evicted, and maliciously charged for crimes he did not commit. Mr. Smith is represented by Gregory Calliste, Jr. and Frederick K. Brewington of the firm.

On or about late September 2009, Mr. Smith told a family friend he was looking for a property to rent. He was approached by a man named Russell Gutner, who claimed to have several properties for rent. After viewing 79 William Street in Roosevelt, New York, Mr. Smith, who has construction experience, came to an agreement with Mr. Gutner that he would rent the residence for three months in exchange for $2,400 and completion of repairs that the property needed. Mr. Smith also claims that Mr. Gutner promised to extend the lease an additional six months if the repairs were completed on time.

On October 12, 2009, Nassau County police officers Andrew Huksloot and Nicole LoDuca were called to the property by Mr. Smith after he was approached at the residence by Ann Gaetano, who claimed to be the owner. Mr. Smith told Ms. Gaetano he was leasing the property and provided copies of the lease and a receipt. He also received a visit from Harry G. Terezakis later that day who identified himself as the owner. After reviewing the lease and rental receipt, both Officers Huksloot and LoDuca agreed that it was a “civil matter” and left the parties to resolve it themselves through civil court. Mr. Smith claims that both Mr. Terezakis and Ms. Gaetano agreed to work something out with him in the presence of the officers.

Late in October 2009, Mr. Smith returned to his home to discover the locks had been changed, the back door had been kicked in and some of his belongings were damaged or missing. Mr. Smith called the police and filed a complaint, stating Ms. Gaetano may have been involved. Mr. Smith received a call from Ms. Gaetano the next day demanding that he leave the property and claiming that she had a law enforcement officer break into the property to change the locks.

On October 23, 2009, Mr. Smith contacted the police after he was notified by friends that someone was attempting to break into the property. He returned to the home to find Ms. Gaetano and several Nassau County police officers arrived, including Detectives Timothy Slevin and Martin Helmke. Mr. Smith was then removed from the house by force and pushed by Detective Slevin. His possessions were thrown out into the street by the police officers. During this time, Mr. Smith contacted the Sherriff’s Department to validate there was no listing of an eviction on that address and also contacted his attorney, who sent over someone to record the events. After continuing to question the officers’ authority and asking for documentation of the eviction, Mr. Smith told the police they were conducting an illegal eviction and was then promptly arrested at the scene by Officer Slevin and cited for criminal trespass in the second and third degree, despite the fact he was on the public sidewalk. Those charges were later dismissed.

On March 31, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Margo K. Brodie allowed the lawsuit to proceed, on the grounds that Mr. Smith was subject to false arrest and abuse of process, citing a combination of video evidence, documentation and testimony for the decision.

“We are glad to see this lawsuit proceed, considering what my client went through,” Mr. Brewington said. “Not only was he the victim of a scam, but he was subjected to illegal search and seizure, wrongful eviction and false arrest and imprisonment. There is no reason Mr. Smith should have been treated in this manner.”

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