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BARON v. MELONI

January 17, 1985

Robert G. BARON, Plaintiff,
v.
Andrew P. MELONI, Individually and as the Sheriff of the County of Monroe, and The County of Monroe, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CURTIN

CURTIN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Robert G. Baron, a former member of the Monroe County Sheriff's Department, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He claims that his discharge from the Sheriff's Department violated his constitutional right to privacy, free association, and due process. Defendants, the County of Monroe and Andrew P. Meloni, County Sheriff, have moved for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

 For the reasons that follow, the defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted, and the complaint is dismissed.

 Factual History

 Plaintiff served as a deputy sheriff with the Monroe County Sheriff's Department from February 22, 1971, until his discharge on May 7, 1980. In early 1978, he met Linda Vaccaro, wife of reputed organized crime member Angelo Vaccaro. In March or April, 1978, his patrol car was observed in the driveway of the Vaccaro residence. While not legally separated, Linda and Angelo Vaccaro were living apart at this time. Both Mrs. Vaccaro and the residence were under surveillance by the Monroe County Organized Crime Task Force, which was attempting to locate her husband. Although Mrs. Vaccaro was known to have had past associations with organized crime figures, she was never convicted of any crime.

 On April 24, 1978, plaintiff was summoned to the office of Chief of Detectives Anthony Yazback. He was then totld of Mrs. Vaccaro's identity and of the Task Force's activities. Plaintiff was ordered not to associate with Mrs. Vaccaro.

 Plaintiff was seen with Mrs. Vaccaro on three occasions during the months of June and July, 1978. On July 7, 1978, plaintiff was again ordered not to associate with Mrs. Vaccaro. On July 17, 1978, departmental charges were filed against plaintiff by then-sheriff William Lombard. Although plaintiff was unsuccessful in his state court action, seeking to have the charges dismissed before the hearing, a hearing was never held. Baron v. Lombard, 71 A.D.2d 823, 419 N.Y.S.2d 388 (4th Dept.1979), aff'd, 50 N.Y.2d 896, 430 N.Y.S.2d 591, 408 N.E.2d 920 (1980).

 On December 7, 1978, plaintiff wrote to then-Sheriff Lombard, seeking advice as to whether the orders not to associate with Mrs. Vaccaro were still in effect. Plaintiff received a response from Chief Deputy Thomas Cellura on December 15, 1978, which stated taht the orders had not been rescinded.

 New charges were filed against plaintiff on April 13, 1979, based on his association with Linda Vaccaro. He again attempted to stay the hearing in state court, and this time challenged the constitutionality of the order. On July 24, 1979, New York State Supreme Court Judge Elizabeth Pine ruled against plaintiff, finding that defendants were not acting in excess of their authority in attempting to hold a disciplinary hearing on the charges. She also found taht defendants had a basis for issuing the orders. No further action was taken on these charges.

 On March 21 and/or 22, 1980, Linda Vaccaro was injured in an automobile accident while driving plaintiff's privately owned car. After this incident, plaintiff was charges with insubordination, consorting, with persons of ill repute, and conduct discrediting the department.

 An administrative hearing was held April 21 and 22, 1980. The hearing officer, in a May 6, 1980 decision, found plaintiff guilty of insubordination but dismissed the two remaining charges for vagueness and overbreath. On May 7, 1980, defendant Sheriff Andrew Meloni discharged plaintiff for insubordination. The termination was affirmed in a November 19, 1980, arbitration proceeding, in which it was found that the decision to discharge plaintiff was not arbitrary or capricious.

 There is no dispute that, during this entire period, plaintiff continued to perform well in his duties as a deputy sheriff. *fn1"

 Procedural History

 Plaintiff's complaint was filed September 1, 1982, in United States District Court, Western District of New York, before Honorable Michael A. Telesca. Judge Telesca granted a motion by defendants for ...


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