United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MICHAEL J. BURRELLI, Plaintiff,
MARK JULIAN, JOSHUA KWOLEK, MICHAEL MROZEK, UNION TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPARTMENT, LUANNE PARKONEN, JOSHUA LAMANCUSA, and JOSEPH VASCETTI, Defendants.
A. Medure, Esquire, Marie Milie Jones, Esquire, Jeffrey
Cohen, Esquire, Timothy Mazzocca, Esquire.
STEWART CERCONE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court are Motions to Dismiss filed by Defendants
Joshua Lamancusa (“Lamancusa”) and Luanne
Parkonen (“Parkonen”) (Doc. No. 5), and Defendant
Joseph Vascetti (“Vascetti”) (Doc. No. 12). Also
before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Plaintiff Michael J. Burrelli (“Plaintiff”) (Doc.
No. 21). In his Complaint, Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of his
constitutional rights with respect to four vehicles that he
claims were stolen from him. (Doc. No. 1-2). This Court has
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 42 U.S.C.
June 2010 and August 2013, Plaintiff purchased four vehicles:
a 1998 Pontiac Firebird, a 1997 Cadillac Seville, a 1998
Chevy Cavalier, and a 2001 Chrysler 300M. (Doc. No. 1-2 at
¶¶ 11-17). On August 23, 2013, Plaintiff was
arrested and incarcerated at the Lawrence County Jail.
(Id. at ¶ 18). During his incarceration, each
of Plaintiff's vehicles was towed to the facility of an
individual named Derek Bloom with Plaintiff's express
authorization. (Id. at ¶¶ 19-21).
December 10 and 11, 2013, Bloom apparently sold the 1998
Cavalier and the 2001 Chrysler to a wrecking facility without
Plaintiff's permission. (Id. at ¶ 22). On
January 31, 2014, Plaintiff learned that his other two cars
were also missing from Bloom's lot. (Id. at
¶ 24). Neither Plaintiff nor his fiancé, Ashley
Vereb, authorized the sale or removal of any of the four
vehicles. (Id. at ¶¶ 24-26).
February 1, 2014, Plaintiff sent a letter to Defendant Mark
Julian (“Julian”) of the Union Township Police
Department to report the four vehicles stolen. (Id.
at ¶ 25). After receiving no response to his letter,
Plaintiff unsuccessfully attempted to telephone the Union
Township Police Department nine separate times on the morning
of February 14, 2014. (Id. at ¶ 27). Plaintiff
mailed a second letter to the Union Township Police
Department on February 17, 2014. (Id. at ¶ 29).
None of his attempts to contact the police produced any
response. (Id. at ¶ 30).
March 2014, Plaintiff sent a private Criminal Complaint to
the Lawrence County District Attorney's Office.
(Id. at ¶ 30). The Complaint was returned
because no defendant was named therein. (Id. at
¶ 31). Plaintiff responded with a letter explaining that
he did not know who had stolen the vehicles and had been
unable to engage the Union Township Police Department to
assist with the investigation of his claims. (Id. at
16, 2014, Plaintiff sent a letter to the Pennsylvania State
Police informing them of the stolen vehicles. (Id.
at ¶34). The State Police advised him that the matter
was within the jurisdiction of the Union Township Police
Department and that they would forward his letter to that
entity for review. (Id. at ¶ 35). Plaintiff
placed subsequent calls to the Union Township Police
Department on several occasions but his calls were refused.
(Id. at ¶¶ 36-37).
September of 2014, Plaintiff sent a second private Criminal
Complaint to the Lawrence County District Attorney's
Office, this time identifying an individual named Shawna
Sholtis as the defendant. (Id. at ¶ 38). That
Complaint was denied and returned. (Id. at ¶
39). A third Criminal Complaint sent in May, 2015, received
no response. (Id. at ¶¶ 97-98).
October 31, 2014, Plaintiff filed a civil action against
Julian and several unnamed members of the Union Township
Police Department alleging that they had refused to allow him
to report his vehicles as stolen. (Id. at ¶
45). At some point thereafter, Plaintiff received an incident
report written by Defendant Joshua Kwolek
(“Kwolek”). (Doc. No. 1-2 Ex. V). In the incident
report, Kwolek states that he received Plaintiff's letter
and spoke with Vascetti and was advised that the missing cars
were a civil matter and had nothing to do with the police.
(Id.). Kwolek also spoke with Parkenon and was again
advised that the missing cars were a civil matter that could
not be handled by the Union Township Police Department.
(Id.). Kwolek interviewed Vereb and Bloom and was
told that Vereb had been storing the vehicles at Bloom's
warehouse but had failed to pay storage fees. (Id.).
Consequently, Vereb advised Bloom to take two of the vehicles
to the scrap yard. (Id.). Neither Vereb nor Bloom
could explain to Kwolek what had happened to the other two
December 5, 2014, Kwolek and Defendant Michael Mrozek
(“Mrozek”) visited Plaintiff in jail and spoke
with him about the stolen vehicles. (Doc. No. 1-2 at ¶
63). Kwolek advised Plaintiff that the missing vehicles were
a civil matter to be resolved between Plaintiff, Vereb, and
Bloom. (Id. at ¶ 67). During subsequent
meetings, Plaintiff continued to insist that the vehicles be
reported as stolen and was repeatedly advised that it was a
civil matter. (Id. at ¶¶ 71-74, 76).
February 12, 2015, Kwolek spoke with Lamancusa and was
advised that no charges would be filed. (Id. at
¶ 77). Ultimately, no criminal proceedings were ever
initiated for any of the four vehicles. Plaintiff claims that
Lamancusa and Parkenon refused to file appropriate criminal
charges and used their influence as the Lawrence County
District Attorney and Assistant District Attorney to prevent
the Union Township Police Department from conducting a proper
investigation into his claims. (Id. at ¶¶
110-111). He contends that Vascetti should never have been
involved in the investigation and that he should not have
advised the Union Township Police Department that the missing