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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

[OH] Ex-Lorain Officer Montelon files suit against the Police Department

A former fired Lorain Police Officer has filed a federal suit against the Lorain Police Department claiming they tried to silence him... Joe Montelon says his civil rights were violated and the harassment is in retaliation for him being the source that led to the Department of Justice investigation of police brutality. No criminal charges were ever filed against Montelon...

The News-Herald, Journal Register News
By Kelly Metz
Published: Friday, August 06, 2010
[Excerpts] Unsealed Thursday, the affidavit that initiated a 2008 search of former Lorain police officer Joseph Montelon's home in Wickliffe said that investigators previously dug into Montelon's trash and found items suggesting Montelon was the person who had mailed numerous "threatening anonymous letters" about Lorain police Chief Cel Rivera to public officials in Lorain County... "An anonymous tip is never a basis for a search warrant," [Montelon's attorney, Terry] Gilbert said. Investigators dug into Montelon's trash in 2008 on July 3, July 17 and Aug. 28, the affidavit said. They found news articles, envelopes addressed to prior recipients of the letters, a Lorain police roster... Investigators also found an anonymous letter to a retired Lorain police chief stating, "Four officers have died at Mr. Rivera's hand," citing police officers who had committed suicide allegedly because of Rivera... Gilbert said no matter what was stated in the affidavit or found in the search "it doesn't change our position that the search was illegal"... [Full article here]

Filed by Brad Dicken
August 6th, 2010
[Excerpts] When Lorain police raided the Wick­liffe home of former Lorain police officer Joseph Montelon nearly two years ago, they not only were trying to determine if he was the author of letters aimed at Lorain police officers, but also the identity of Mon­telon’s source of internal police information, according to the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant... Montelon has not been charged with a crime, but court documents filed by Ohio Attor­ney General Richard Cordray’s office, which took over the case as special prosecutors in April, said felony charges are possible... Montelon has declined to say whether he was the author of the letters, which often blasted Police Chief Cel Rivera, comparing him to the debauched Roman emperor Caligula... The letters were sent to public officials, police and media for years but were never signed... [Lorain City Councilwoman Anne] Molnar said she’s read all of the letters but never saw any­thing threatening in any of them... [Full article here]

News-Herald staff
August 28, 2010
[Excerpts] The August 2008 search of former Lorain police officer Joseph Montelon's Wickliffe home has resulted in a lawsuit that claims the search and seizure of Montelon's property were illegal... According the lawsuit, the affidavit "contained false statements made knowingly, intentionally, or with a reckless disregard for the truth." It also said Montelon's property has been illegally held for two years... The city of Lorain, Police Chief Cel Rivera, Capt. Richard Resendez and Detective A.J. Mathewson are named as defendants... [Full article here]

Morning Journal
By KELLY METZ kmetz@MorningJournal.com
August 28, 2010
[Excerpts] ...“The whole point of the lawsuit is to stop these renegade cops in Lorain from trampling on people’s rights,” Montelon’s attorney Terry Gilbert said. “What they did in getting that warrant was shameful and goes against every cornerstone of what a free society is all about in order to be critical of government officials. To abuse their authority like that can not be tolerated.” Police have justified the search of Montelon’s home on the threat of charging him with aggravated menacing and menacing by stalking, two charges which do not hold up against his client, Gilbert said. Mathewson did not state the letters caused physical harm, but were only written to emotionally bother Rivera, which does not constitute menacing, according to the lawsuit. “Mathewson did not allege any facts in the affidavit that indicate any crime at all occurred. He misled the law in his affidavit and did not properly allege elements of either offense or conduct that would constitute a crime,” the lawsuit stated... Montelon has been “living under a cloud of uncertainty” regarding the investigation, which started in 2008 and he has yet to be indicted, Gilbert said. Gilbert compared the city and Rivera’s actions to that of Nazi Germany or communist Russia... “You dissent against your government and they go after you,” he added. “And the collaboration between Rivera and Resendez and getting local law enforcement involved to ransack somebody’s house to see if you are the one writing letters, it’s hard to even believe that could happen so blatantly.” Gilbert said he is leaving it up to a jury to determine what damages Montelon should be awarded if they win the suit, but the main goal of the suit in general is stop this kind of action. Lorain Mayor Tony Krasienko said he did not have a chance to look at the suit, but “feels confident the police department did everything correctly.” Lorain Law Director Pat Riley and Rivera could not be reached for comment. “We will review it and deal with it appropriately,” Krasienko said. [Full article here]
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