The opinion of the court was delivered by: SIDNEY STEIN, District Judge
Earl Hayes brings this action pro se against the Village of
Monticello, its police department and two of its police officers
Detective O'Connor and Officer Bunce (collectively, "the
village defendants") as well as the New York State Police
Department and New York State Trooper Lostracco (collectively,
"the state defendants").*fn1 Hayes seeks monetary damages
for defendants' allegedly wrongful confiscation of approximately
$31,000*fn2 in cash from him. The state defendants have
moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Fed.R. Civ. P.
12(b)(6) and the village defendants have moved for summary
judgment pursuant to Fed.R. Civ. P. 56. In light of the parties' submission of materials outside the
complaint, this Court converted the state defendants' motion to
dismiss the complaint into a motion for summary judgment in an
order dated November 5, 2003. See, e.g., Sira v. Morton,
380 F.3d 57, 67-68 (2d Cir. 2004). Based on Hayes' statement that he
"anticipate[d] that [he] will be obtaining [proof] in the near
future" (Hayes Decl. dated October 16, 2003 ("Hayes Decl.
I")*fn3 ¶ 5), the Court granted Hayes an extension of time
until November 17, 2003 to submit any additional proof in support
of his opposition to the summary judgment motions. Hayes did
submit a declaration by Paul Bunton who accompanied Hayes in
the car on the date at issue as well as a certificate of
disposition and a misdemeanor complaint, both of which relate to
Hayes' prior arrest for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
Earl Hayes alleges a conspiracy between the New York State
Police and the Village of Monticello Police Department to take
his money and prevent him from recovering it. On June 6, 2001 at
around 12:30 a.m., Hayes was stopped by New York State Troopers
Lostracco and Maler in Sullivan County and received citations for
four traffic offenses: speeding, obstructed view, driving across
a marked hazardous zone in a construction area and changing lanes
without signaling. (McCaffrey Decl. Ex. A). Maler and Lostracco
"ran [Hayes'] license" and notified him that there existed an
outstanding warrant for his arrest in the Village of Monticello.
(Mem. Supp. State Defs.' Mot. Dismiss at 2). Although Hayes alleges that the troopers were
aware that no such warrant existed and used it as a pretext to
stop and search plaintiff's vehicle (Compl. at 4), he also
concedes that "they had probable cause to arrest Plaintiff based
on the information that they had received concerning the
purported `arrest warrant.'" (Hayes Decl. dated Oct. 16, 2003
("Hayes Decl. II") ¶ 7).
Lostracco and Maler searched Hayes at the time of the arrest
and confiscated the approximately $31,000 that they found on
him.*fn4 (Compl. at 1). Paul Bunton, who was traveling in
the car with Hayes, was permitted to take possession of all of
Hayes' personal property except for the cash. (Hayes Decl. I ¶ 3;
Hayes Decl. II ¶ 3). The troopers then took Hayes to the
Monticello Police Department and put him in a holding cell.
(Hayes Decl. I ¶¶ 3-4). That same morning, when the Monticello
police officers realized that in fact there was not an
outstanding arrest warrant for Hayes, they released him from
custody, but refused to return his money. (Hayes Decl. I ¶ 4).
Officer Bunce allegedly told Hayes that the money would be held
pending an investigation and threatened to arrest Hayes for
criminal trespass and disorderly conduct if Hayes did not leave
the stationhouse immediately. (Id.). Hayes' father, who had
come to the station to pick up his son, inquired about Hayes'
money and Bunce said that plaintiff should contact the police
later that day for further information. (Compl. at 1-2). Hayes
claims that Bunce knew at that time that he was without legal authority
to retain Hayes' money. (Hayes Decl. II ¶¶ 4-5).
Later that day, when Hayes called about the money, Officer
Bunce said that Detective O'Connor would be responsible for the
matter. (Compl. at 2). Hayes claims that O'Connor did not respond
to repeated phone calls and letters over a period of two to three
weeks. (Id. at 2). During that time, Hayes spoke to Bunce on a
number of occasions, but Bunce, according to Hayes, "willfully
failed to fulfill his duty" to return plaintiff's money. (Id.
Hayes alleges that when he finally reached O'Connor, two to
three weeks after the traffic stop, the detective told Hayes that
the money had been turned over to the Drug Enforcement
Administration ("DEA"). (Id. at 2). Hayes claims that O'Connor
refused to tell Hayes how to contact the DEA. Instead, O'Connor
said that he would take Hayes' contact information and supply it
to the DEA, which would contact Hayes in two to three weeks.
(Id.; Hayes Decl. II ¶ 5). Hayes asserts that he gave Officer
O'Connor his Bronx, New York address, as well as a home and
mobile phone number. (Compl. at 2). After five weeks, Hayes had
still not heard from the DEA, and so he called its New York City
Field Office. (Id.). An agent there told Hayes to write a
request to the Asset Forfeiture Section of the DEA. (Id.).
Hayes claims that O'Connor did not transfer the funds to the
DEA until June 21, 2001 two weeks after the arrest as
exhibited by the seizure date on the DEA's notice of seizure
letter. (Hankins Decl. Ex. 1). Hayes claims that Bunce and
O'Connor intended to keep the funds if Hayes failed to demand
their return, but when Hayes pursued the issue, O'Connor
deliberately provided the DEA with Hayes' former Hurleyville, New York address not his then current address to
frustrate Hayes' collection efforts. (Compl. at 2; Hayes Decl. II
¶ 4). Hayes also asserts that O'Connor perjured himself*fn5
and wrongfully turned the money over to the DEA without
justification. (Hayes Decl. I ¶ 5).
Hayes claims that Monticello police officers have engaged in
widespread violations of civil rights, including committing
perjury in sworn testimony, using excessive force and harassing
citizens. (Compl. at 3). He further alleges that the Village of
Monticello has participated in these violations by its awareness
of their existence and failure to take any action to address
institutional problems in the police department. (Id.).
A. Standard for Summary Judgment
Summary judgment may be granted "only when the moving party
demonstrates that `there is no genuine issue as to any material
fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a
matter of law.'" Allen v. Coughlin, 64 F.3d 77, 79 (2d Cir.
1995) (quoting Fed.R. Civ. P. 56(c)); accord Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265
(1986). The Court must "view the evidence in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable
inferences in its favor, and may grant summary judgment only when
`no reasonable trier of fact could find in favor of the nonmoving
party.'" Allen, 64 F.3d at 79 (citation omitted) (quoting
Lund's, Inc. v. Chemical Bank, 870 F.2d 840, 844 (2d Cir.
1989)). Because Hayes is proceeding pro se, this Court will hold his
pleadings to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers. . . ." Haines v. Kerner, 404 ...