United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
E. SCHWAB CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
plaintiff Chris Albert Ribaudo claims that the defendant, a
police officer with the Pittston City Police Department,
violated his Fourth Amendment rights in in retaliation for
Ribaudo being a witness in another pending civil case
involving the defendant and in retaliation for Ribaudo
refusing to plead guilty. The defendant has filed a motion
seeking to dismiss the complaint or, in the alternative, to
stay the case until the pending criminal charges against
Ribaudo are resolved in state court. For the reasons that
follow, we recommend that the complaint not be dismissed, but
we recommend that the case be stayed until the criminal
charges against Ribaudo are resolved in state court.
Background and Procedural History.
began this action by filing a complaint naming Pittston City
Police Officer Samuel Desimone as the defendant. Ribaudo
claims that Desimone retaliated against him because he was a
witness in Mawson v. Desimone, 3:16-CV-00400 (M.D.
Pa.), where he submitted an affidavit, and because he refused
to plead guilty. He also claims that Desimone violated the
Fourth Amendment by entering his home and arresting him
without a warrant. Ribaudo further claims that Desimone
falsified a criminal complaint against him.
alleges that Officer Desimone and Officer Ferandez learned
his address from the affidavit that he submitted in the
Mawson case, and on November 22, 2016, they broke
into his home. Although they found no drugs, they took
Ribaudo and his fiancé Tammy Brown to the police
station and held them for approximately four hours. The
officers then came to Ribaudo's holding cell, and showing
him a small box with bagged up drugs, said look what we
found. The officers claimed that they went back to
Ribaudo's apartment and found the drugs, even though they
had not found any drugs during their search in Ribaudo and
Brown's presence. Ribaudo requested a DNA test of the
plastic bags containing the drugs, which test came back
negative. Ribaudo claims that Desimone's actions were in
retaliation for Ribaudo's affidavit in the
also claims that Desimone retaliated against him when
Desimone and his lawyer advised a federal judge that he would
be going to plea court in Luzerne County. According to
Ribaudo, this was false since he did not plead guilty. After
Ribaudo refused to plead guilty, Desimone then retaliated
against him by trumping up new charges against Ribaudo based
on the original arrest on November 22, 2016. Ribaudo alleges
that Desimone used the same police affidavit, etc., and just
changed the dates and time to cause Ribaudo difficulty.
to Ribaudo, in the early morning hours of February 14, 2018,
Desimone and two other officers banged on his front door, and
Tammy Brown partially opened the door. When the officers said
they were there for Ribaudo, Brown asked to see a warrant and
said the officers could not just enter. Desimone responded
that they do not need a warrant and pushed the door open
forcing Brown out of the way. Ribaudo was not shown a warrant
for his arrest. Ribaudo, nevertheless, said ok, let me get my
shoes on. Desimone, however, said no, and Ribaudo had to walk
on snow and ice without shoes from his residence to the
police car. As a result, Ribaudo injured his feet.
the ride to the Luzerne County Prison, Desimone told Ribaudo
that the charges were from a year and half ago. Ribaudo
responded that the drugs were not in his home, and he had
been set up because he was a witness in the Mawson
case. Desimone told Ribaudo that he should plead guilty to
conspiracy. Ribaudo refused, and he reiterated that the drugs
were not his and that he had been set up. Ribaudo was booked
at the jail and released in the morning on
“BAIL/R.O.R.” Doc. 1 at 4.
to Ribaudo, Desimone charged him with the same charges that
were already pending so he could contact him and encourage
him to plead guilty to conspiracy. Ribaudo also alleges that
Desimone's confidential informant said he sold drugs, but
Desimone refused to disclose the confidential informant's
identity. Ribaudo views the new charges against him as
Desimone's way of saying “Happy Valentines
Day” to a witness in a federal lawsuit.
also alleges that Desimone falsified his police report by
including statements that Desimone says Ribaudo and Brown
made when, in fact, they did not make those statements.
According to Ribaudo, Desimone is known for this type of
conduct. Ribaudo also suggests that Desimone had a conflict
of interest in bringing the charges given that he knew
Ribaudo was a witness in the Mawson case.
addition to attaching numerous affidavits to his complaint,
Ribaudo attached to his complaint an affidavit of probable
cause from the criminal complaint against Ribaudo dated
January 10, 2018, and another affidavit of probable cause
dated November 21, 2016.
filed a motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for a more
definite statement pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(e). The motion
has been briefed.