Borough Settles Illegal Search Lawsuit For $35,000

Roselle Park has settled a civil lawsuit for $35,000 – awarding $25,000 to Philip Szabo and $5,000 each to James Redington and Mark Salerno who were the plaintiffs in the case – that stemmed from a noise complaint on December 9, 2012 and ended in the arrest of Mr. Szabo for possession of marijuana as well as possession of drug paraphernalia. The lawsuit named the Roselle Park Police Department (RPPD) and officers Bell, Kostantinos, Lanza, Picarelli, and Polakoski – all are covered under the municipality’s insurance carrier, NJIIF (New Jersey Intergovernment Insurance Fund).

According to reports and court documents, police were responding to a noise complaint at the residence on West Roselle Avenue and – in the course of investigating – were denied entrance to the premises. The police then stated that they had a search warrant, at which time they were allowed on the premise which resulted in the aforementioned arrests. The exchange was captured on videotape that was left recording while the group was watching a football game.

A subsequent trail dismissed all charges against Mr. Szabo and, according to the lawsuit, Mr. Redington and Mr. Salerno were issued “criminal complaints alleging in essence noise pollution”.

The settlement contains the standard language where the municipality denies all allegations asserted against them and that the settlement is not an admission of any wrongdoing.

The original claim for damages was $500,000 for Mr. Szabo, $250,000 for Mr. Redington, and $250,000 for Mr. Salerno. The resulting settlement is to be paid by NJIIF.

Copies of the complaints and settlement agreement are available below: