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Wrongful drug arrest lawsuit filed against Pittsburgh-area police

An Allegheny County police dispatcher who was wrongfully arrested for having a similar name to a suspect in a drug dealing investigation has filed a lawsuit against two local police department. The suit accuses Moon Township and Coraopolis police of ignoring the plaintiff's explanation that he was the victim of mistaken identity and damaging his professional reputation in the process.

The 29-year-old man was arrested by the Coraopolis police chief and one of his officers on April 10 on suspicion of drug possession and distribution. The arrest warrant was based on testimony from a Moon police detective who said he saw the man sell drugs to an informant. Apparently mixing up the suspect with the plaintiff, the chief and officer tracked the latter man to the Sewickley Heights Police Department, where he works as a dispatcher, and arrested him.

Among the information given in the arrest warrant was the suspect's address in South Heights, a place the plaintiff has never lived. But when the plaintiff tried to explain that there had been a mistake, the arresting officers ignored him and made no effort to look into the claim, the lawsuit says.

The man was held in jail for six hours before posting bond. At some point, prosecutors realized the wrong man had been arrested. They dropped the drug charges against him at his preliminary hearing on April 17.

However, by then the man had been suspended from his dispatcher job and had had to miss several shifts at a second job, the lawsuit contends. The plaintiff is seeking $75,000 in damages, court costs, attorney's fees and interest.

Source: Timesonline, "Moon man sues Coraopolis, Moon police claiming false arrest," Jenny Wagner, July 16, 2012

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