EXETER – An attorney for Sgt. Leonard Galli wants to prevent a Secret Service agent who recently settled a lawsuit against Galli from testifying in a separate case against the officer.
Exeter Councilman Joseph Esposito and former councilman John Petrucci are suing Galli, a member of the borough’s police department, for false arrest.
Esposito and Petrucci want to call agent William Slavoski as a witness to bolster their claims that Galli has a pattern of filing trumped-up charges against people he dislikes in order to ruin their reputations.
Esposito and Petrucci filed a federal suit against Galli and Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Daniel Mimnaugh in 2004, alleging Galli convinced Mimnaugh to file meritless charges against them in 2002.
The men were accused of misappropriation of taxpayer funds in connection with an $800 loan made in 1998 to a borough employee. The charges were later dismissed after a district judge ruled the loan had been approved by the full council.
Barry Dyller, attorney for Esposito and Petrucci, maintains information regarding the Slavoski case, which was recently settled for $125,000, should be permitted at the Esposito and Petrucci trial because it shows Galli has ulterior motives in seeking charges against certain people.
In the Slavoski case, Exeter officer Dion Fernandes charged Slavoski with simple assault and other offenses. Slavoski had gone to the police station to pick up his son, Jason, who had been cited for possession of alcohol. Fernandes, who no longer works for the borough, alleged William Slavoski drove his shoulder into the officer as he was leaving. All charges against William and Jason Slavoski were later dismissed by a district judge.
Galli’s attorney, Sean McDonough, filed a court motion seeking to prevent evidence of the Slavoski case, or any of three other lawsuits filed against Galli, from being presented at the Esposito and Petrucci trial, which is scheduled to start on March 5. McDonough argues such evidence is inadmissible under a federal rule that precludes presentation of other “crimes, wrongs or acts” in order to challenge a person’s character.
In a reply to the motion, Dyller acknowledges such evidence cannot be used to impugn a person’s character, but said it can be used to show a pattern of behavior.
“Galli’s pattern is to arrest, or to cause others to arrest, persons whose position in some hierarchy is higher than his own,” Dyller wrote in court papers. “In this case, Galli caused two councilmen who exercised control over him to be arrested without probable cause and with much public fanfare. In the Slavoski matter, Galli had a federal law enforcement agent arrested, again with much public fanfare, and engaged in specific acts to destroy Mr. Slavoski’s reputation ...”
A federal judge is expected to hear arguments on the motions at a pretrial conference scheduled for Feb. 1.