Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Manasquan paid out $35,000 to settle man's false arrest lawsuit.

On March 13, 2017, the Borough of Manasquan (Monmouth County) paid $35,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a Farmingdale man who claimed that a Borough police detective planted evidence that falsely suggested that he had been intoxicated even though his Breathalyzer test read 0.00%.

In his complaint, Michael G. Mylod claimed that he was emptying some Dunkin Donuts trash out of his car on October 24, 2014 when two Borough police officers approached him.  One of the officers, Detective Adam Pharo, allegedly demanded to know "how many beers" Mylod had that day even though Mylod claimed 20 years of sobriety.  Pharo, who said that he was investigating a child luring incident, allegedly falsely claimed that he smelled alcohol and threatened to impound Mylod's car.  Pharo went to the trash bin where Mylod had deposited his Dunkin Donuts trash and retrieved a black bag with a beer can inside and claimed that a witness had said that she saw Mylod throw the bag away.

When Mylod challenged the existence of the witness, Pharo allegedly "physically jolted" and asked "are you calling me a liar?"  After making Mylod perform field sobriety tests, which Mylod said he passed, Pharo allegedly handcuffed him, pushed him into a patrol car and accused him of resisting arrest.  At the police station, Pharo allegedly falsified his police report.  Mylod was issued summonses for drunk driving, even though the blood alcohol level was 0.00%, failure to produce an insurance card and registration (Mylod said that he was removed from the car before being asked to provide these documents), careless driving and for having an open container of alcohol in his car.  Mylod said that he was detained for four hours and that his car was impounded.

Mylod claimed that in Municipal Court he was "forced to plead guilty to failure to produce and failure to wear a seat belt" in order to obtain a dismissal of the more serious charges.  He said that he incurred legal fees, court costs and fines of nearly $4,800.

According to the complaint, police "falsely identified [Mylod] as a possible suspect in a child luring investigation and did not clear his name as a suspect until January 14, 2015."

The case is captioned Mylod, v. Borough of Manasquan, et al, Docket No. MON-L-3905-15 and Mylod's attorney was Philip G. Mylod of Lavallette.  The complaint and and the settlement are on-line here.

None of the Mylod' allegations have been proven or disproven in court. Settlement agreements typically state that payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by any of the defendants.  All that is known for sure is that Manasquan or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Mylod $35,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases resolve before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.