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Perfetto v. City of New York

United States District Court, E.D. New York

February 11, 2015

RALPH PERFETTO, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK, ET AL., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. LEO GLASSER, Senior District Judge.

Plaintiff Ralph Perfetto ("Perfetto") brings this action against the City of New York ("City"); former Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes ("Hynes"), former Kings County Deputy District Attorney Dino Amoroso ("Amoroso"), Kings County Assistant District Attorney Joel Greenwald ("Greenwald"), former Richmond County Assistant District Attorney Om Kakani, and Detective Annemarie Murphy ("Murphy"), [1] individually and as employees of the Kings County and Richmond County District Attorney's Offices ("Individual Defendants, " and together with the City, "Defendants"), alleging that Defendants conspired to selectively prosecute him for the unauthorized practice of law, which violated 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), Defendants move to dismiss the Complaint. Dkt No. 6. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from the Complaint, which is presumed true for purposes of the motion, as well as from documents of which the Court may take judicial notice. Perfetto served as a Democratic Party official and an elected member of the Democratic State Committee from 1992 through 2010. See Compl. ¶ 11. Hynes was the Kings County District Attorney during all times relevant to the Complaint. Id. Perfetto worked on Hynes' 2001 and 2005 re-election campaigns for District Attorney, as well as his campaigns for New York Governor and Attorney General. Id. ¶ 12.

Perfetto alleges that Hynes used "his political power and prosecutorial authority to systematically crush political opponents" and "targeted" individuals whom he believed to be "threats to [his] domination of the Brooklyn Democratic Party and his position of District Attorney." Id. ¶¶ 10, 27-28, 30(a). He alleges that in September 2005, he became such a "target" when he challenged Vito Lopez-the candidate who Hynes openly supported-in an election for Democratic County Leader. Id. ¶ 14. He lost the election to Lopez. Id.

I. Conviction for the Unauthorized Practice of Law

On August 21, 2008, nearly three years after losing the election for Democratic County Leader, Perfetto appeared before the Brooklyn Criminal Court on behalf of his cousin's son, Anthony Martire, a defendant in a "minor criminal matter." Id. ¶ 15.[2] He also faxed statements regarding two witnesses to the Assistant District Attorney on the case. Id.

In April 2009, Detective Murphy contacted Perfetto in response to a complaint regarding his August 2008 appearance as an attorney in Brooklyn Criminal Court without a license.[3] Id. ¶ 16. Perfetto "immediately" responded and "explained the situation." Id. ¶ 17. In April 2010, the Kings County District Attorney's Office filed a criminal complaint against him, which charged him with the unauthorized practice of law, a misdemeanor, in violation of New York law. Id. ¶ 18. He was arrested on June 1, 2010, and on May 26, 2011, a jury found him guilty of the charge and the Brooklyn Criminal Court imposed a $1, 000 fine, which he paid. Id. ¶¶ 18-19; Kings County Cert. of Disposition (DX B). He did not appeal the conviction. Id. ¶ 20.

II. Alleged Conspiracy Against Perfetto

Days after his arrest in June 2010, Perfetto launched his re-election campaign for District Leader of the Brooklyn Democratic Party. Id. ¶ 21. He ran against Kevin Carroll, the candidate who Hynes openly supported. Id. ¶ 22. He alleges that Hynes, Amoroso, and Greenwald "carefully orchestrated" his arrest and criminal prosecution "to embarrass and deny [him] from being reelected to his position of leadership in the Democratic party." Id. ¶ 21. After his arrest, Carroll allegedly "sent out campaign material smearing [his] name." Id. ¶ 22. He lost the election to Carroll. Id. ¶ 23.

Perfetto commenced this action on April 29, 2014. Dkt. No. 1. The Complaint does not identify specific causes of action, and makes only a general statement that Defendants "violated Plaintiff's rights as guaranteed by reason of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985." See Compl. ¶ 36. The Court construes the Complaint as alleging federal claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 for civil conspiracy, selective prosecution, and municipal liability. On August 12, 2014, Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint. Dkt. No. 6. ("D. Mem."). Perfetto filed his Opposition ("Opp.") on September 26, 2014. Dkt. No. 12. Defendants filed their reply ("Reply") on October 17, 2014. Dkt. No. 13.

LEGAL STANDARD

I. Rule 12(b)(6)

To survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Complaint must contain "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Although detailed factual allegations are not necessary, mere legal conclusions, "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, " or "naked assertions" by the plaintiff will not suffice. Id. (internal quotations and citations omitted). This Court must accept as true all of the allegations made in ...


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