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Exonerated Cop Hits $235,135 Jackpot
by Thomas MacMillan | Aug 29, 2013 3:02 pm
Posted to: Legal Writes
Five years after his own department arrested him for allegedly groping two women while working security at BAR, Officer Anthony Maio successfully defended himself a second time—to win a judgment worth a quarter of a million dollars
Maio won that judgment through a years-long civil suit he brought against the city.
Maio (pictured speaking in the file video at left), a New Haven cop, sued the city to claim reimbursement for legal fees he incurred while successfully defending himself from the original charge of sexual assault.
A six-member jury last Thursday awarded Maio $187,256.46. Maio’s attorney, Donn Swift, filed a motion for interest on the judgment, applicable because the city refused a settlement offer. With interest, the verdict comes to $235,153.
“It has taken a mountain to move the inertia of this case to conclusion,” Maio said in an emailed statement. Click to hear a clip of a previous interview after Maio was cleared of the sex assault charges.
Asked if the city will appeal the verdict, Corporation Counsel Victor Bolden said he is “reviewing the city’s legal options.”
Thursday’s verdict stems from an April 2008 incident in which Maio was accused of sexually assaulting two women in a bathroom at BAR, the Crown Street pizzeria and nightclub. Maio was working an extra-duty security job at the time. The state’s attorney’s office obtained a warrant for his arrest based on the complaint.
In August 2009, a jury acquitted Maio. He then sought money from the city to cover the legal expenses he had incurred while defending himself. Maio invoked Connecticut General Statute 53-39a, which requires the city to cover an economic loss suffered by a cop who has been tried and found not guilty of a crime allegedly committed while he was on duty.
The city refused to pay. Maio sued in June, 2010.
In the civil trial, Maio again faced the sexual assault allegations. Scott Karsten, an attorney hired by the city, argued that if Maio was groping women, he was clearly acting outside of his duty as a police officer, and thus the city has no obligation to pay his legal bills.
In the city’s proposed jury instructions, Karsten wrote: “You must remember that a judgment of acquittal does not mean that the plaintiff is innocent; it means only that the government has not met its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt during the criminal trial.”
Attorney Swift said he put Maio on the stand to explain what had happened that night in BAR, that he had done nothing wrong, that he had simply asked two women to leave. The two women did not testify, Swift said. One was out of state and the other couldn’t be subpoenaed, he said. They did offer testimony at the criminal trial.
“Mr. Maio testified about what he saw and he did, and essentially there was nothing to refute it,” Swift said. “The city tried basically to retry the criminal case.”
Karsten offered a second argument for why the city shouldn’t have to pay: Because Maio had violated a department regulation covering extra-duty assignments. The city invoked General Order 82-1, which states that extra duty officers are not to enter the nightclubs they’re working for; they should remain in the parking lot. Maio was inside the bar, and thus outside of the course of his duty as a police officer, the city argued.
Attorney Swift said he put a number of cops on the stand to show that extra duty-officers regularly took a position inside BAR when working extra-duty jobs there. BAR requested that they be there, and paid $30,000 a year to have cops inside, Swift said.
Neither of the city’s defenses succeeded in swaying the six-member jury.
Asked for comment, Bolden offered this statement to the Independent: “During the course of my tenure as the City’s Corporation Counsel, I have enjoyed few things more than the opportunity to provide support to the city’s public safety officers: those who risk their lives so all of us can be safe. In this case, however, the city’s taxpayers are expected to pay for a situation caused by a police officer’s failure to follow a general order of the New Haven police department and to heed a reminder of the applicability of that order by a superior officer. In my view, that was not what the law intended and I am reviewing the city’s legal options on how to proceed from here.”
Of the $187,256.46 verdict the jury awarded, $63,148.94 was reimbursement for lost overtime opportunities. Maio was placed on administrative duty during the criminal case against him, which prevented him from earning overtime, Swift said.
In June of 2011, at the outset of the civil case, Maio (pictured) offered to settle with the city for $156,000. The city refused.
As a result of last week’s verdict, the city now has to pay interest of $47,896.57 on the verdict, because it refused to settle the case.
“The best part about it was they had to pay the interest,” Swift said. “It made it worth our while having to wait so long.”
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank each member of the jury for their careful consideration and verdict in this case,” Maio wrote in an email. “Each member should know they have enabled me and my family to step forward in the healing process. For that, I thank each and every one of them.”
Maio also thanked his legal team, the cops who testified, and his family, for “helping me through a very difficult and emotional process.”
Tags: Anthony Maio, Donn Swift, Scott Karsten, BAR
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The title of this story wrong. The headline should read: Incompetent corporation counsel and police department internal affairs costs the city a jackpot. The damage amount is little compensation for the stress, aggravation and lost wage these useless charges did to him and his family. The supervisor of internal affairs at the time who is responsible for this travesty is retired and getting a 6 figure pension from a broke city.
I also find fault with the headline, should be “Good cop gets what he is owed”
Anthony was put through the ringer by a rogue IA officer with a vendetta. His name was dragged through the mud, had enormous legal expenses, and lost income.
Congrats Anthony!!! Well deserved victory.
The lesson here is that if the city were to conduct itself with integrity, follow proper procedures, and follow the LAW it can reduce this huge burden of monetary judgements.
Actually the headline is in bad taste. There is no “JackPot” for Officer Maio. The investigation was mis-handled, and driven by an incompetent, insecure, IA supervisor. The personal conflict, which was imagined by the supervisor, drove her to try and destroy his good reputation, and his career. If it was possible to review the files on the investigation, and compare them to others, conducted by the same individual, it becomes obvious that the motivation to further this slanderous behavior was driven by some deep rooted psychological trigger. The Investigator rarely pressed any complaint from women, and much of this was based in a desire to do as little real work within the NHPD.
For what Officer Maio, his parents, wife, children, closest friends, and relatives, had to go through, watching the most surreal travesty of justice, this “JackPot”, will never be enough.
Too bad the Independent couldn’t get beyond their regular sources, and the PD press releases to get the truth on this.
PS-an explanation as to the how and why he had to supply his own attorney, while accused of a crime while in uniform, on this specific case, was also part of the story. It was another bit of malicious manipulation, of the law, and department policy, to try and cover-up the illegal and shoddy investigation allowed by one of “Pastore and Esserman’s” hand picked management candidates.
Shame on the independent, the Pastore Police, and city hall.
Good for him! He deserves this award.
As a New Haven homeowner/taxpayer, you don’t know how much it hurts to say that. Theresa nailed it; there are people who should be getting kicked in the teeth here but they won’t be.
“The best part about it was they had to pay the interest,” attorney Swift said. “It made it worth our while having to wait so long.”
$235,153 X 1/3 = $78,384
You know, if I had to do it over again, I would’ve gone to law school. The two women did not testify, which made it much easier for Swift to win the case. I don’t know how many hours he put into preparing the case, but that’s a nice payday by anyone’s standards.
I agree with Theresa that the word “jackpot” doesn’t belong in the headline. It might be appropriate if Ofc. Maio had sued for damages, but he didn’t. The judgement was for reimbursement of expenses, plus interest. How about changing it to “Exonerated Cop Wins $235,135 Award For Legal Fees?” It’s certainly not as eye-catching, but it’s definitely more accurate.