By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
Recorder News Staff
A lawsuit against Montgomery County regarding a false arrest of an Amsterdam man during a repossession four years ago was recently settled for $42,500.
Attorney Elmer Robert Keach III filed a lawsuit earlier this year on behalf of Patrick Boles who claimed he was falsely arrested while his truck was being repossessed on May 6, 2010, because he refused to allow for the repossession of his truck, which had been paid in full.
The suit sought punitive damages against Montgomery County, Sheriff Michael Amato, former Undersheriff Jeffery Smith, and arresting officer Sgt. Thomas Flickinger.
The repossession company, American Lenders Services Co. of Glen Falls, was also sued and contributed to the settlement.
"This is a result for Mr. Boles and a settlement that is deserved given his baseless arrest by the sheriff's department," Keach said. "Mr. Boles should have never been arrested and prosecuted, period. He would not have been arrested and prosecuted if Sgt. Flickinger had been provided with appropriate training by his supervisors."
Keach said Flickinger had charged Boles with resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental administration but the charges were later dismissed by the town of Amsterdam court as law enforcement has no authority to interfere in a dispute over private property.
"The law is clear on this," Keach said. "If your car is being repossessed and you see the guy taking the car you have the right, especially if you are Boles who had paid for the car, to demand them to get off your property and come back with a court order. Law enforcement cannot interfere unless there is a court order."
In the lawsuit, Boles also claimed that Sgt. Flickinger used excessive force against him in making the arrest. At the time of the repossession, Boles had been sitting in the truck, refusing to get out. Flickinger allegedly pulled Boles out of the truck and continued to scuffle.
In February, Montgomery County tried to dismiss the case but was denied by U.S District Judge Gary L. Sharpe, who said the case merited a trial.
Boles said in a statement released by Keach's office Wednesday that he was happy with the outcome.
"This settlement should be seen for what it is, a complete vindication for me as a private citizen. I did nothing wrong on May 6 and I should not have been arrested," he said. "I have no hard feelings toward Sgt. Flickinger. He was acting as best he could given the sheriff's department failure to train him about the law of repossession. The real blame for this situation lies with Sheriff Michael Amato, who has patently failed in his responsibilities to train his subordinates about the law. It is regrettable that the taxpayers of Montgomery County have to address this failure with the payment of public money."
Amato said he was not aware of the settlement and could not comment. County attorney Douglas Landon could not be reached for comment.
Keach currently has three other pending lawsuits against the county and Amato regarding incidents at the county jail.
"The citizens of Montgomery County desperately need and certainly deserve adult supervision at the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department," Keach said. "Until that day comes, however, I am here to keep Sheriff Michael Amato honest in his dealings with the citizens of the county and to hold him accountable for his and his department's misconduct, especially given that others in county government have refused to do so."