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Federal judge denies judgment for nightmare arrest

Nancy was required to wear this same “suicide gown” for the next several days. After three days, Nancy was evaluated by a psychiatrist who determined her to be of sound and stable mind, and immediately removed her from suicide watch.

Later that day, bail was posted, and Nancy was able to go home. Subsequently, all charges against Nancy were dismissed.

Upon Nancy’s release, Undersheriff Caracappa issued a press release in response to media inquiries, titled “Armed Woman Arrested for Trespassing at Suffolk County Gabreski Airport”, which falsely stated that Nancy had been taking pictures of the airport and surrounding security,” and that she became hysterical, and began “screaming and flailing around” when confronted. Undersheriff Caracappa also falsely reported that Nancy had surveillance equipment, 500 rounds of ammunition, and “scary weapons” in her car, and that she was a right-wing extremist and terrorist, and that she had been at the airport trespassing several times and had been warned to stay away. Upon further inquiry, Nancy had never trespassed at the airport before, had never been warned by anyone to “stay away,” had no “surveillance equipment” of any kind other than her point and shoot camera, and certainly was not a terrorist. Undersheriff Caracappa has refused to issue a retraction or correction.

The town and codefendant Lt. Robert Iberger of the town police were served the lawsuit on 27 August 2010, and were supposed to respond by 29 October, according to an affidavit by Genovese’s attorney William Germano of the Law Office of Frederick Brewington.

When time to file the answer (and thus contest the lawsuit) ended, Genovese’s attorney filed a motion for a default judgment in December 2010, which would give her the damages originally sought because the city failed to contest the suit.

The federal lawsuit filed against the Town of Southampton, the County of Suffolk, Lieutenant Iberger, Undersheriff Caracappa, Deputy Carlock, Lieutenant Leuete, and various other employees of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department was to be handled by city attorney Michael C. Sordi.

Sordi, who was expected to defend the city and its police department from the bank-busting lawsuit, neglected to file an answer to the suit in court, claiming that he that he telephoned counsel for the plaintiff the day before his answer was due, advising that his mother was in extremis, and that the doctors treating her had suggested that her death was imminent. He was granted a verbal two week extension, but did not follow up in writing, as he was en route to his mother’s bedside.

A week later, the Town Attorney’s mother passed away, and a week after that, his 25-year old nephew died suddenly and unexpectedly. Sordi stated that over the course of these weeks he was in and out of his office tending to family business and grieving the loss of his family members, and that he quite frankly “forgot” that he had not served an answer in this case. He states “I simply got ‘caught up’ in my personal events and I thought, erroneously, that I had actually served the Answer, when in fact I had forgotten to upon my return to work.”

Before Sordi’s appointment as the Town Attorney for the Town of Southampton, he made Nassau County lose $20 million in a high profile federal case involving excessive force by a Nassau County police officer in 2009.

The mishandling of the legal proceeding was addressed in a video uploaded 11 February 2011 of a Southampton Town Council meeting. James W. Malone, Southampton councilman, was outraged by the attorney’s negligence: “As an attorney, I can say this, one of the most egregious, actions or inactions that any attorney can take is not responding to a pleading. […] We lose, right here right now, unless the judge says, you know what, interpose your defense…”

Despite their interposition being late by more than three months, there has been a report that Judge Joseph F. Bianco ruled against the motion for default judgment filed by Genovese in a court document dated 25 February 2011.

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