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Long Island Office Virgil Hill v. United States Treasury Agent Vincent Marino

September 25, 2012

LONG ISLAND OFFICE VIRGIL HILL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES TREASURY AGENT VINCENT MARINO, UNITED STATES TREASURY AGENT JOSEPH MUSCATELLO, NASSAU COUNTY DETECTIVE RONALD R. SCHEPIS, SHIELD 883, NASSAU COUNTY DETECTIVE "JOHN DOE," AND HEMPSTEAD POLICE DETECTIVE DARREL P. AIKEN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge:

FILED CLERK

9/25/2012 12:24 pm

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Plaintiff Virgil Hill sued Secret Service agents Vincent Marino and Joseph Muscatello (the "Federal Defendants"), Nassau County detectives Ronald Schepis and "John Doe" (the "County Defendants"), and Hempstead Village detective Darrell Aiken in a civil rights action. Pending before the Court are three pre-discovery, dispositive motions. For the following reasons, Aiken's motion (Docket Entry 29) is GRANTED and the Federal Defendants' and the County Defendants' motions (Docket Entries 33, 25) are DENIED with leave to re-file after a brief discovery period.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff's case stems from two arrests on two separate alleged crimes, neither of which resulted in Plaintiff's conviction. The Court briefly describes each.

I. Plaintiff's First Arrest

In August 2007, the Federal Defendants were

investigating complaints that someone used counterfeit fifty-dollar bills to buy merchandise from various stores in Nassau County. In the course of investigating, Agent Marino interviewed three employees who identified Plaintiff from photographic line-ups as the man who had passed the counterfeit notes.

In December 2007, the Federal and County Defendants arrested Plaintiff at his job and brought him to a Nassau County police department facility to be interviewed. Plaintiff explained that he was not involved in any counterfeiting and that he had been at work on the dates the phony bills were used. (Pl. Aff. ¶¶ 7-8.) At one point during the interview, the "John Doe" County Defendant, who Plaintiff now knows was Detective John Harvey, was alone with Plaintiff and said: "Virgil, I know you didn't do this crime; I hope you beat it." (Id. ¶ 8.) Plaintiff asked Harvey to tell his colleagues that they were making a mistake; Harvey replied that if Plaintiff told the others what Harvey had said, Harvey would deny it. (Id.)

Plaintiff was arraigned on felony counterfeiting charges and held in jail because he could not post $250,000 bail. (Id. ¶ 9.) He had been incarcerated for approximately two weeks when his boss appeared in court with computer records and surveillance video from Plaintiff's job that showed Plaintiff was indeed at work on the relevant dates and times. (Id. ¶ 10.) Upon receiving this evidence, the judge presiding over Plaintiff's case released him on his own recognizance. The charges remained pending until June 2009, when the Nassau District Attorney agreed to dismiss the case because it had lost contact with the civilian witnesses.

II. Plaintiff's Second Arrest

In September 2008--while his counterfeiting case was pending--Plaintiff was arrested again, this time on a drug charge by Aiken, a detective with the Village of Hempstead Police Department. Aiken stated that he observed Plaintiff sell marijuana to a confidential informant, he had a clear view of the transaction from a nearby unmarked police car, and his confidential informant had provided him with reliable information in the past. (Aiken Aff. ¶¶ 5, 8.)

According to Plaintiff, after he was arrested on the marijuana charge, he was questioned by a Nassau County police lieutenant who told Plaintiff that he was not interested in a drug sale and that he would prefer to learn more about Plaintiff's counterfeiting. (Pl. Aff. ΒΆ 11.) ...


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