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Kasteleba v. Judge

August 7, 2008

JOSEPH R. KASTELEBA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN JUDGE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Kosik

MEMORANDUM

Presently before us is the defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment against Plaintiff Joseph R. Kasteleba ("Kasteleba"). The amended complaint alleges that the defendants violated Kasteleba's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Kasteleba alleges that he was detained for approximately three months subsequent to a routine traffic stop because the defendants knowingly provided false information to Florida law enforcement. We have subject-matter jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, because the claims in the complaint raise federal questions. For the reasons that follow, we will grant the defendants' motion.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On August 3, 2005, Kasteleba filed the original Complaint against the defendants, John Judge ("Judge"), Michael L. Green, Allen Castor, Jeffrey R. Imboden, Gary R. Lucht, Gerard N. Massaro, Sean R. Ryan, Michael M. Webster, Lloyd A. White, John R. Tuttle, Margaret E. Thompson, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, in the Court of Common Pleas for Luzerne County. (Doc. 1.) The defendants removed the action to the Middle District of Pennsylvania on August 25, 2005. (Id.) Three days later, on August 29, 2005, the defendants moved to dismiss Kasteleba's Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 12(c). (Doc. 3.) By Order dated October 13, 2005, we granted the Motion to Dismiss and afforded Kasteleba an opportunity to file an amended complaint. (Doc. 7.)

Kasteleba filed the Amended Complaint against the same defendants on November 1, 2005. (Doc. 8.) Again the defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), on November 21, 2005. (Doc. 9.) In our Order of April 24, 2006, we dismissed (1) all claims against the defendants sued in their official capacity because, in their official capacity, the defendants were not "persons" under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and (2) all claims against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole pursuant to Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity. (Doc. 12.) Remaining defendants in this action are John Judge, Michael L. Green, Allen Castor, Jeffrey R. Imboden, Gary R. Lucht, Gerard N. Massaro, Sean R. Ryan, Michael M. Webster, Lloyd A. White, John R. Tuttle, and Margaret E. Thompson, all individually. On May 30, 2006, the remaining defendants answered the amended complaint. (Doc. 15.)

On October 1, 2007, the defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment against all counts of Kastelaba's complaint. (Doc. 34.) The parties filed appropriate briefs. (Docs. 42, 43.) The motion is now ripe for disposition.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On June 17, 1982, Kasteleba pled guilty to false imprisonment and attempted robbery in Broward County, Florida. (Defs.' Statement of Facts ¶ 5, doc. 34 [hereinafter "SOF"].) Kasteleba received three years in prison and seven years probation for his offenses. (SOF ¶ 6.) While Kasteleba was on probation, he moved to Pennsylvania, where on July 13, 1984 the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (the "Board") accepted supervision of him pursuant to the Interstate Compact for the Supervision of Parolees and Probationers, Act of June 25, 1937, P.L. 2086, No. 415 (codified as amended at 61 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 321--23 (also known as the Uniform Act for Out-of-State Supervision)), which governs interstate probation and parole. (SOF ¶ 7.)

On February 20, 1995, someone robbed at gunpoint and assaulted Anthony Manchio and assaulted Les Kellmer at Kellmer's Bar*fn1 in Plains, Pennsylvania. No one reported the incident to the police until the next day, when Manchio attempted to file a criminal complaint against Kasteleba, whom Manchio identified as the perpetrator. (Final Progress & Conduct Report 2 [hereinafter "Final Report"], App. to SOF 22.) The district magistrate was unable to process Manchio's criminal complaint though, because Manchio lacked an address for Kasteleba. (Id.) The district magistrate advised Manchio to return on February 22. (Id.) From what we know, Manchio did not then return. The incident at Kellmer's Bar was later detailed in an arrest report:

On Wednesday, 2/20/85, at approximately 2:30 AM, Client [Kasteleba] barged in to Les Kellmer's Tavern . . . where he confronted the bar owner, Les Kellmer, and two customers, Anthony Manchio . . . and "Butch" Mayeski . . . . At the time, Client was reportedly armed with a handgun. Mayeski fled and hid under the bar and Client confronted Manchio in the kitchen area of the Tavern. Mr. Kellmer attempted to gain control of the handgun wielded by Client, but was knocked to the floor. Client then physically assaulted Manchio, by pistol whipping him about the face, resulting in Manchio receiving a gash to his forehead, a blackened right eye and a broken nose. Client then reportedly stole $550. from Manchio and fled from the Tavern when Kellmer indicated he was going to call the Police. Mr. Kellmer noted that he did not contact Police because he did not want to get Client into any further difficulty with the Police. (Arrest Report 1, Feb. 28, 1985, App. to SOF 14.) The Board was notified of the incident by Manchio. (See id.) Board agents tried unsuccessfully to locate Kasteleba. (Final Report 2, App. to SOF 22.) On February 25, 1985, Kasteleba turned himself in; he was arrested for violating his probation and detained in the Luzerne County Prison. (SOF ¶ 8.) The Arrest Report, Violation Report, and Technical Violation and Evidence Report, all available in the Appendix to the defendants' statement of facts (doc. 35), charged Kasteleba with violating his probation by failing to report a change in employment status, changing employment without authorization, possessing a weapon, engaging in assaultive behavior, and failing to pay public defender fees (from Florida). (SOF ¶ 9.)

Defendant Judge was notified of the incident, and he spoke personally with the witnesses to the incident. Judge's written account of his investigation follows, in pertinent part:

On the afternoon of 2-21-85 Mrs. Doris Philips, Luzerne County Adult Parole Department, telephoned the Scranton District Office to advise that Anthony Manchio . . . was in their office with a complaint concerning a client. Mr. Manchio then spoke with Agent Judge of the Scranton District Office and stated essentially that he, Manchio, had been at Kellmer's Bar . . . on 2/20/85 at about 2:30 AM, when client, armed with a handgun, burst into the bar, assaulted Manchio, taking $550 from his person, and also assaulting the bar owner, Mr. Kellmer. Manchio was positive concerning his identification of client and stated that he had also been to the office of District Magistrate Joseph Verespy to file a criminal complaint against client.

On the evening of 2-21-85 Agent Judge personally interviewed Mr. Les Kellmer at Kellmer's Bar. Mr. Kellmer confirmed that . . . client, armed with a handgun, burst into the bar and assaulted Manchio, as well as Mr. Kellmer. Mr. Kellmer was positive as to the identification of client as he has known client and other members of client's family for many years.

On 2-22-85 extensive efforts were made to locate and arrest client, but without success. It was determined that on the evening of 2-21-85 client and the girlfriend, Deborah Holland, stayed in Room 186 of The Station Choo-Choo Inn . . . . Client registered as Tom Kanor, 161 Maiden Lane, Wilkes-Barre, PA. A desk clerk at the inn identified client by photograph as the man who registered as Tom Kanor. Subsequent interview with the client's girlfriend, Deborah Holland, confirmed that she and client had stayed at the Choo-Choo Inn and that the girlfriend had sniffed cocaine, although she denied any involvement of client with respect to drugs.

On the morning of Monday, 2-25-85, agent interviewed Mr. Anthony Manchio at the office of the Luzerne County District Attorney. Manchio again re-stated that on 2-20-85 at 2:30 AM he was at Kellmer's Bar when a fellow barged in, pistol-whipped him and Mr. Kellmer and took $550 from Manchio's rear trouser pocket. According to Manchio, the assailant missed $6,500 which was in a jacket pocket. However, by 2-25-85, when interviewed, Manchio's identification of client was less definite. Nonetheless, it was obvious that Manchio had been assaulted in that he had a badly bruised and bloodshot right eye and there was a gash on his forehead. Agent photographed Manchio's injuries

This agent interviewed client at the Luzerne CP [County Prison] on 2-26-85. At that time client stated essentially he had in fact been at Kellmer's Bar, arriving there at about midnight the evening of 2-20-85. He claims to have left the bar at about 2:00 AM with friends whom he identified as Tom Kantor . . . and the girlfriend, Deborah Holland . . . . He claims they went to Kantor's home and spent the whole night there. He acknowledged that while at the bar he was introduced to Anthony Manchio by Deborah Holland, but no conversation took place; they simply shook hands. (Final Report 2--3, App. to SOF 22--23.)

The interstate probation compact, under which Kasteleba's probation was governed, required Pennsylvania to hold a probable cause hearing on Kasteleba's alleged probation violations, and to forward the results to Florida for final disposition. (SOF ¶ 11.) On March 4, 1985, a board hearing examiner conducted a probable cause hearing, wherein probable cause that Kasteleba had violated his probation conditions was established. (SOF ¶¶ 10, 12.) Kasteleba had advance notice of the hearing and was represented by counsel at ...


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