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Pa. man receives $500,000 settlement over 2006 Sea Isle City police incident

Pa. man receives $500,000 settlement over 2006 Sea Isle City police incident

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SEA ISLE CITY - A 20-year-old man from Drexel Hill, Pa. will receive $500,000 to settle his federal lawsuit in which he alleged police beat him, held him without charges, and then lied about the incident in court, according to court documents.

The Press of Atlantic City learned of the settlement through an Open Public Records request with the Municipal Excess Liability Joint Insurance Fund, which provides some insurance coverage for the city.

The suit, the second half-million dollar settlement involving city police in recent months, was resolved in January without an acknowledgement of wrongdoing by either side, municipal attorney Paul Baldini said.

Thomas Edward McLoughlin, then 16, was at 123 42nd St. at around 11 p.m. July 22, 2006, the suit said, when police Special Officers Nicholas Falcicchio and Joshua Giarcyk spoke with him about an unspecified incident.

The confrontation turned ugly, and the suit said Falcicchio and Giarcyk, along with officers Jon Gansert, Dennis Felsing, Rosemary Milano, Bud Boyer, Steve Conte and Anthony Garreffi were eventually present for a melee that ended with McLoughlin under arrest.

McLoughlin, a hemophiliac, needed emergency care at Burdette Tomlin Hospital, and later follow-up medical and dental care from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the suit said.

No charges were initially filed, but on Aug. 14, 2006, McLoughlin was charged with aggravated assault and obstructing justice. The suit alleged the charges were false and maliciously filed.

Documents provided by the city before the Feb. 1 and 2, 2007 trial, as well as testimony by officers at trial, gave contradictory information about which officers were present, the suit said, alleging this was done to cover up officers' wrongdoing.

Superior Court Judge Kyran Connor noted in his decision the difficulty in finding out who was there, when he found McLoughlin not guilty on Feb. 23, 2007.

McLoughlin's father, Robert McLoughlin, filed the suit on his and his son's behalf in 2007. It was settled in January 2011.

In addition to the settlement, the MEL said it spent $58,335 in legal fees. The Atlantic Joint Insurance Fund paid an additional $151,883.

Thomas McLoughlin said the settlement was fair, but he declined further comment because he still vacations in Sea Isle City.

Mayor Leonard C. Desiderio referred questions to municipal attorney Baldini.

The city police have since instituted changes, Baldini said, including more training for officers and changes to police procedures. Baldini said the department was also undergoing improvement as it sought department accreditation.

He said no disciplinary actions were taken against the officers, but added the city no longer employed Falcicchio and Giarcyk.

Baldini also said that this lawsuit and others took place while William J. Kennedy was police chief. Kennedy, named in this suit, was suspended without pay in December 2007 and retired in May 2008.

Since the retirement, Baldini said no suits have been filed against the police.

This is the second time in recent months that Sea Isle City's insurers have settled police litigation for six-figure sums. The fund in January agreed to pay $550,000 to a former resident who was told her child was excluded from a school play "because he was black," and was then arrested after confronting school officials.

While Doretha Waters-Rice was accused of threatening to kill school officials, the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office dropped charges in 2003. Waters-Rice filed her federal suit the next year.

In that earlier case, U.S. District Court Judge Robert B. Kugler wrote in 2008 that "there is evidence suggesting that (Detectives Jon) Gansert and (Dennis) Felsing made up facts to support the arrest warrant, and that a jury could readily conclude that the police lacked probable cause to arrest Waters-Rice following her meeting with school officials."

Both Gansert and Felsing were also named as defendants in the latest lawsuit.

Contact Derek Harper:



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