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Burrelli v. Julian

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

February 15, 2017

MICHAEL J. BURRELLI, Plaintiff,
v.
MARK JULIAN, JOSHUA KWOLEK, MICHAEL MROZEK, UNION TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPARTMENT, LUANNE PARKONEN, JOSHUA LAMANCUSA, and JOSEPH VASCETTI, Defendants.

          Jason A. Medure, Esquire, Marie Milie Jones, Esquire, Jeffrey Cohen, Esquire, Timothy Mazzocca, Esquire.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DAVID STEWART CERCONE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Presently 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. § 1983.

         II. Factual Background

         Between 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).

         On 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).

         On 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).

         In 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 ¶ 32).

         On July 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).

         In 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).

         On 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 vehicles. (Id.).

         On 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).

         On 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 ΒΆΒΆ 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 ...


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