The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPRIZZO
This is an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1979), with various pendent state claims. The principal allegations of the § 1983 claim are that various private individuals comprising the "Malloy Group" ("Malloy defendants") as defined by plaintiff, see "Amended Amended Verified Complaint" ("2d Am. Compl.") at P 13,
conspired with defendants Salargo and Harrington of the Sag Harbor Police Department ("SHPD") and defendants Finnerty, John F. Johnson and Bennett of the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department ("SCSD") to deprive plaintiff of his property, to convert his property, and to destroy his "business and commercial relationship [sic]" for their own benefit. See 2d Am. Compl. at P 14. Defendants have moved for summary judgment.
This case arises essentially out of a landlord-tenant dispute between members of the Malloy Group and plaintiff. From sometime in 1979 until October of 1981, plaintiff was apparently engaged in various business enterprises in Suffolk County, New York, including a cable television program and the publication of "East End Magazine." See 2d Am. Compl. at PP 9-10. In June of 1980, plaintiff leased from Malloy a commercial premises located at the Long Wharf in Sag Harbor, New York. See id. at P 11; Ex. 1 to Affirmation in Opposition to Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment of Arthur G. Nevins, Jr., Esq. ("Nevins Aff.").
On or about June 22, 1981, plaintiff paid to defendants Malloy and Reynolds a check in the amount of $1000.00. See 2d Am. Compl. at P 16; Ex. 2 to Nevins Aff. Plaintiff contends that this payment was to cover rent for June and July of 1981 -- beyond the one-year term set forth in the lease. The Malloy defendants contend that the check was in payment for past rent due and owing. See, e.g., Deposition of Patrick Malloy at 81-83; Deposition of W.B. Reynolds at 67, 73-75. It is undisputed that at some time in July of 1981, defendants Reynolds and Sam Johnson effectuated a change of the locks to the Long Wharf premises formerly occupied by plaintiff. In late July, plaintiff realized he had been "locked out" of the premises, and allegedly contacted personnel at Malloy's real estate office, see Pl. Reply Aff., supra note 2, at P 46, as well as various attorneys and the Sag Harbor Police Department, see id. at PP 46-49, in an attempt to gain access to his property in that office.
Plaintiff alleges that he tried several times until August 5, 1981 "to cause the Police Department of the Village of Sag Harbor to take a complaint for the removal of his property [and that defendant] Salargo refused to take the complaint as did other members of the Police Department who told the Plaintiff that the matter was 'Salargo's case.'" See 2d Am. Compl. at P 18. On or about August 5, 1981, plaintiff informed Officer Salargo of his intention to enter the Long Wharf premises to collect his personal possessions, and requested that Salargo accompany him. See id. at P 19; Pl. Reply Aff. at P 50. Salargo declined this request, apparently telling plaintiff in effect that his dispute with his landlord was a civil matter, see Deposition of M. Salargo ("Salargo Dep.") at 26-27, that he would not accompany him, and that plaintiff could "go ahead" and break in if he wanted to. See, e.g., 2d Am. Compl. at P 20.
Plaintiff then did break in and retrieved some property. See 2d Pm. Compl. at P 21; Pl. Reply Aff. at P 51. A warrant for plaintiff's arrest on a charge of burglary was subsequently issued. See Pl. Reply Aff. at 51. The complaint was signed by defendant Reynolds and witnessed by Police Chief Harrington. See Ex. 3 to Nevins Aff.; 2d Am. Compl. at P 22; Pl. Reply Aff. at P 53. Plaintiff was arrested, booked, fingerprinted, arraigned on the charge, and then released. See 2d. Am. Compl. at P 23; Pl. Reply Aff. at P 53. On or about March 10, 1982, the criminal charges against plaintiff were dismissed. See 2d Am. Compl. at P 32.
On January 25, 1982, the SCSD defendants conducted a sheriff's sale at the Long Wharf premises, at which the property in that office was sold in satisfaction of a judgment obtained against plaintiff's East End Magazine, Inc. by an entity called Searles Graphics. See 2d Am. Compl. at P 26-27; Pl. Reply Aff. at PP 56, 59. There is no allegation that Searles Graphics was in any manner connected with any of the defendants in this action. Despite an allegation to the contrary in his complaint, see 2d Am. Compl. at P 26, plaintiff has stated in his reply affidavit that he was aware during the autumn of 1981 of the pendency of this sale and the circumstances leading up to it. See Pl. Reply. Aff. at PP 56, 59-61. Defendant Reynolds purchased the property for approximately $100.00 at the sale, which was attended only by defendants Reynolds, Henry, and Gould. See 2d Am. Compl. at P 26.
Plaintiff alleges, inter alia, that the sale was illegal because of failure to provide adequate notice thereof. See id. at P 28. It is worth noting that nowhere does plaintiff contend that New York law and procedures governing sheriff's sales are unconstitutional in and of themselves. Plaintiff further contends that the Malloy defendants and the SCSD defendants should have known that the property sold was not the property of East End, Inc., but plaintiff's personal property, with a value far in excess of the price Reynolds paid for it. See id. at P 31.
Plaintiff bases this action, in which he seeks several million dollars in damages for alleged civil rights violations, upon numerous unsubstantiated allegations of a far-flung conspiracy, in which Malloy, a prominent local East End business and community figure, purportedly directed a cadre of his employees and public officials in a complex plot to deprive plaintiff of his property and ruin his reputation on the East End of Long Island. See, e.g., Pl. Reply Aff. at PP 7-88 passim ; see also Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law at 9-10 ("The misconduct of the Police Officers and Sheriff's deputy [sic] in this case was the intentional conspiring with private citizens to deprive Boracci of his liberty and property and due process rights."). For the reasons that follows the Court concludes that defendants' motions must be granted, and the complaint must be dismissed.
Despite giving plaintiff ample opportunity to do so, the Court has been directed to no portion of the voluminous deposition testimony or other evidence elicited in discovery which supports plaintiff's allegations of conspiracy. Indeed, plaintiff's own deposition testimony indicates that he has no knowledge of any meeting between any of the defendants. See, e.g., Deposition of Boracci at 64-65, 73, 77-80, 102-05. The fact that plaintiff gave Officer Salargo advance notice of his intention to "break in," see id. at 72-73; see also Salargo Dep. at 26-27, along with Salargo's failure to accompany him, is clearly not sufficient to establish a conspiracy. Indeed, Salargo can hardly be faulted for refusing to become an accomplice in plaintiff's crime, nor can the SHPD be faulted for acting upon a criminal complaint stemming from the break-in. Moreover, there was certainly probable cause for the criminal prosecution which ensued, so that Boracci's allegations do not establish a malicious prosecution claim. Cf. Conway v. Village of Mount Kisco, 750 F.2d 205, 214 (2d Cir. 1984) ("Conway I ") (and cases cited therein), judgment reaff'd, 758 F.2d 46 (2d Cir. 1985) ("Conway II ").
Nor is the fact that the SHPD failed to accept plaintiff's complaint, based on his being locked out, sufficient to establish a conspiracy. That conduct was perfectly consistent with a good faith belief that Plaintiff should seek civil -- not criminal -- redress. The Second Circuit "has repeatedly held that complaints containing only 'conclusory,' 'vague,' or 'general allegations' of a conspiracy to deprive a person of constitutional rights will be ...