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Gebhart v. Vaughn

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


January 5, 2009

STEVEN D. GEBHART, PLAINTIFF
v.
JOHN VAUGHN, II, AND CURTIS A. WHITMOYER, DEFENDANTS

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conner

ORDER

AND NOW, this 5th day of January, 2009, upon consideration of the reports of the magistrate judge (Docs. 72, 77), recommending that defendants' motions for summary judgment (Docs. 48, 54) be granted, to which plaintiff filed objections (Docs. 73, 78), and following an independent review of the record, it appearing that plaintiff claims that defendants falsely arrested and maliciously prosecuted him for, inter alia, theft by deception,*fn1 and that plaintiff asserts that defendants lacked probable cause for these criminal proceedings, and it further appearing that probable causes exists when the facts and circumstances known to the prosecuting or arresting officers would cause a reasonable person to believe that the charged offense has been or is being committed by the suspect, see Gilles v. Davis, 427 F.3d 197, 206 (3d Cir. 2005) (observing that probable cause to arrest is based upon "the limited information that the arresting officer has at the time"); Merkle v. Upper Dublin Sch. Dist., 211 F.3d 782, 794 (3d Cir. 2000) (stating that probable cause to arrest and probable cause to prosecute must be assessed independently), and the court concluding that the uncontroverted evidence demonstrates that plaintiff repeatedly accepted payment from customers with which he had construction contracts and subsequently-without timely explanation or excuse- failed to either discharge his contractual duties or to refund the customers' payments, (see, e.g., Doc. 57 ¶ 2; Doc. 63 ¶ 2; see also Doc. 54, Exs. A-D), and that on one occasion he deposited monies received from a customer to purchase building materials on the customer's behalf into plaintiff's general account with his supplier rather than into the account earmarked for the customer's expenses, (Doc. 50 ¶¶ 36-37; Doc. 64 ¶¶ 36-37),*fn2 and the court further concluding that plaintiff's claims therefore fail because a reasonable person with knowledge of these circumstances would conclude that probable cause existed to believe that plaintiff obtained or withheld property of others with an intent to deceive,*fn3 and the court finding that defendants are alternatively entitled to qualified immunity for the alleged violations,*fn4 it is hereby ORDERED that:

1. The reports of the magistrate judge (Docs. 72, 77) are ADOPTED.

2. Defendants' motions for summary judgment (Docs. 48, 54) are GRANTED.

3. The Clerk of Court is instructed to enter JUDGMENT in favor of defendants and against plaintiff on all claims.

4. The Clerk of Court is directed to CLOSE this case.

CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER United States District Judge


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