County settles lawsuit over arrest: attorney

FONDA – Montgomery County has settled a lawsuit brought by a man who alleged the Sheriff’s Department violated his civil rights when he was arrested while trying to keep his vehicle from being repossessed, a news release said.

The case against the county and the Sheriff’s Department was settled for $42,500, according to the news release from the man’s attorney, Elmer Robert Keach III.

Patrick J. Boles filed the suit in May 2011 against the county, Sheriff Michael Amato, former Undersheriff Jeffery Smith and Sgt. Thomas Flickinger, alleging false arrest, malicious prosecution, excessive use of force and illegal seizure. It also accused the county, Amato and Smith of improper training and not having policies for deputies to follow.

Smith retired late last year and is now the county’s emergency management director.

“This is obviously a good result for Mr. Boles, and a settlement that is deserved given his baseless arrest by the Sheriff’s Department. Mr. Boles should have never been arrested and prosecuted, period. Mr. Boles would not have been arrested and prosecuted if Sergeant Flickinger had been provided with appropriate training by his supervisors,” Keach said in the release.

According to previous reports, Boles said he saw headlights outside his home around 9 p.m. on May 6, 2010, and when he went outside to investigate, he saw his 1999 Ford truck attached to a tow-truck dolly.

He had a brief physical exchange with one of the men towing the truck and told both of them he’d made the proper payments before telling them they could not take the truck and getting into the driver’s seat, according to court documents. Flickinger was dispatched by the Sheriff’s Department after calls from Boles’ home and the recovery company, according to court documents.

Court filings said Flickinger told Boles to get out of the truck, then allegedly put him in a headlock and pulled him from the seat, though in court documents, the parties disagree on the extent of the physical contact. Boles alleged in the lawsuit that Flickinger attempted to kick him in the groin and, after allowing him to get back in the vehicle, pulled him out again with his arm.

Boles was arrested after other deputies and Amsterdam city police arrived and threatened him with a taser, he said in court filings.

He was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration and released on $1,000 bail. The charges were dismissed seven months later.

“This settlement should be seen for what it is; a complete vindication for me as a private citizen. I did nothing wrong on May 6, and I should not have been arrested,” Boles said in a news release. “I have no hard feelings toward Sergeant Flickinger. He was acting as best he could given the Sheriff’s Departments’ failure to train him about the law of repossessions. The real blame for this situation lies with Sheriff Michael Amato, who has patently failed in his responsibilities to train his subordinates about the law. It is regrettable that the taxpayers of Montgomery County have to address this failure with the payment of public money.”

Montgomery County communications specialist Andrew Santillo said the county’s insurance is paying the settlement. He said the county legislature is set to vote to approve the payment during Tuesday’s meeting.

Amato said this morning that he had no comment on the case.

The lawsuit also named Lisa Seymour of the American Lenders Service Company in Queensbury, and the men who towed the truck, Dakota Seymour and Deniz Kana, alleging a violation of the Uniform Commercial Code and illegal seizure.

According to the release, the repossession company contributed to the settlement as well.