Reads like a crime novel, but, unfortunately, it is not a novel.
It was the gruesome reality for an independent criminal defense attorney out of Westchester County.
Attorney George Galgano filed a federal civil rights lawsuit
- County of Putnam, New York;
- Putnam District Attorney's Office;
- Town of Carmel, New York;
- Town of Carmel Police Department;
- Adam Levy - former District Attorney of Putnam County (voted out of office in 2015, but still lists himself on attorney registration website as Putnam County DA, in violation of attorney registration rules requiring him to re-register 30 days after leaving employment with new information); Adam Levy is coincidentally, the son of TV "Judge Judy" - and thus considers himself not subject to attorney rules;
- Andres Gil - Assistant District Attorney of Putnam County, still employed there;
- Heather Abissi - Assistant District Attorney of Putnam County, no longer employed in Putnam County DA's office, now employed in a civil rights law firm Sussman & Watkins at Goshen, New York; Defendant Heather Abissi's new employer has on its front page these attorney advertisements, on behalf of the law firm and on behalf of each attorney employed by the law firm, including Heather Abissi, now sued for gross civil rights violations:
- Lourdes Gonzalez - investigator in Putnam County District Attorney's office;
- Henry Lopez - senior investigator in Putnam County District Attorney's office;
- Michael T. Nagle - Detective Sergeant in Town of Carmel (NY) Police Department.
Yet, despite such sanctions, there is "no record of public discipline" in their attorney registration anyway:
The complaint lists the following misconduct of defendants:
- fabricating a criminal case against the DA's political opponent Mr. Zaimi;
- spoiling or destroying evidence in the Zaimi criminal case where Mr. Galgano represented Mr. Zaimi as a criminal defense attorney;
- knowingly obtaining false testimony from a witness;
- knowing not releasing to Mr. Galgano "Brady" material, statements of that witness that the sexual crime charged was not committed by Mr. Zaimi and that the witness received money in return for consensual sex;
- obtaining a court order and installing a "pen register" (wiretapping device) to record conversations between the defense witness of that opponent and the defense attorney (Mr. Galgano), based on a false affidavit claiming that Mr. Galgano is about to bribe a witness;
- obtaining a court order and installing a device locating the defense attorney Mr. Galgano's cell phone;
- obtaining a court order for a wiretapping order on Mr. Galgano's phone based on a false affidavit, which resulted in intercepting of private and privileged communications of Mr. Galgano with clients, other attorneys, doctors and family members;
- obtaining an incriminating statement against Mr. Galgano after hours of interrogation of a person completely disabled by ingesting 4 bags of heroin;
- repeatedly trying to obtain false statements against Mr. Galgano, including by a trick when a police detective claimed that somebody else already acknowledged that Mr. Galgano committed a crime, offering an "easy confession";
- destroying exculpatory evidence in the McQuaid case on a cell phone the same way evidence was destroyed in the Ziami case - for which prosecutors were already sanctioned by the court:
- trying to embed false memories into a drugged witness's head and extract a false incriminating statement against Mr. Galgano based on those false embedded memories:
- applying, based on a false affidavit, for a search warrant of Mr. Galgano's car, home and law office:
- synchronized search raids of the defense attorney's home and law office based on unlawfully obtained search warrants:
- searching the defense attorney's home and seizing internal security surveillance of rooms where the attorney slept with his wife and of rooms where their young daughters dressed and undressed, intimidating and traumatizing the attorney's children;
- subjecting Mr. Galgano's employees to warrantless arrests, with claims that they will not be released unless they "consent" to submit to warrantless searches of their person;
- attempting to coerce Mr. Galgano's employees to incriminate Mr. Galgano by intimidation:
- arresting and prosecuting Mr. Galgano and his employee attorney Eric Sharp on "constructive possession" of drugs charges which were dropped a year later because the prosecuting Westchester DA's office (current New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore) admitted that there is no probable cause
- allowed the same prosecutors who committed misconduct to re-submit the case against Mr. Galgano to another grand jury, and
- lifted the injunction from continued searches against Mr. Galgano's computers, officers etc.
But, Levy did one mistake in the case, which cost him.
He mistakenly appointed an honest prosecutor, Chief ADA Ortolano, to handle additional investigation of Mr. Galgano, claiming that Levy trusts Ortolano implicitly to do the right thing.
She did, but not the "right thing" Levy apparently contemplated:
Instead, as the complaint claims, Lisa Ortolano left the DA's office (her current attorney registration indicates that she is still working there).
Mr. Galgano was indicted by Mr. Levy again (I will dedicate a separate blog to circumstances surrounding the 2nd indictment), and the indictment was dismissed.
And, Mr. Galgano is suing prosecutors, investigators and police.
I can foresee claims of prosecutorial absolute immunity and of "qualified immunity" by police officers being made.
Yet, fabricating evidence during investigation does not come within prosecutorial immunity and making false statements to the press certainly does not come within immunity either.
Moreover, recently the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, surprisingly, cut out an exception from prosecutorial immunity in cases where prosecutors fabricate evidence in preparation for presentation to the grand jury, and Mr. Galgano can definitely rely upon that direct precedent fighting any claims of prosecutorial immunity by Adam Levy and other defendants-prosecutors in this case.
I will run a separate blog as to the 2nd indictment against Mr. Galgano and the 2nd dismissal, and I will certainly run an additional blog with analysis of misconduct of Mr. Levy and other public officials involved.
I will also monitor how this case proceeds and will report it on this blog.