Anthony J. Folino, a Wheatfield auto shop owner, has what a judge called a “history” of run-ins with local police agencies.
Sgt. Cory T. Diez of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office has been sued twice by people he arrested – one of whom he shot – but he won both cases.
The two found each other on Thanksgiving weekend 2011, leading to Folino’s arrest on charges that were later dropped.
Last week, Folino filed an $18 million lawsuit in State Supreme Court, accusing Diez and two other deputies of injuring him as he tried to get them to leave his auto repair business in Wheatfield. The deputies said Folino was argumentative and aggressive.
Folino’s attorney is Steven M. Cohen, who lost a case against Diez in U.S. District Court in 2009. Now he’s back with another case against Diez, whom Cohen called “a loose cannon.”
Diez wrote in his report about the Nov. 26, 2011, incident that he immediately recognized Folino because of “past complaints over my 15-year career.”
The situation arose when a passer-by called police shortly after 6 p.m. to report an open door but no lights on at Folino Motors on Cayuga Drive Extension in Wheatfield. The lawsuit says the door was open because the business was open.
Two state troopers arrived on the scene first, and according to a report by Sheriff’s Deputy Timothy A. Caughel, who soon arrived to help, Folino refused more than a dozen times to show identification so police could be sure he was the business owner.
“This is not the Mexican border. I do not need to show you ID. I know my rights, and I am an informed citizen,” Caughel quoted Folino as saying.
Or, as the lawsuit puts it, Folino “calmly explained that he was not going to produce identification and requested that the state trooper leave the facility.”
Folino demanded to talk to a supervisor, so Caughel called Diez.
“Folino kept yelling at Sgt. Diez [that] he knows his constitutional rights and they were being violated and that the police never should have been called to his business,” Caughel wrote. “Sgt. Diez informed Folino that all he had to do was show police some type of identification, and the deputies and troopers would have left.”
The lawsuit asserts that Diez said “he believed [Folino] should have been arrested, handcuffed and thrown inside of a squad car.” Folino said there was no probable cause for an arrest, and Diez replied that “he was no longer going to look after [Folino’s] business.”
Caughel said Diez announced that all the officers were leaving, but Folino followed them, still yelling, so Diez said if Folino didn’t want police to come to his business anymore, he could call and say so.
“Folino upon hearing this began yelling louder and got within approximately six inches of Sgt. Diez’s face,” Caughel wrote. “Folino’s hands were clenched into fists, his neck veins were visibly protruding from his neck, and he squared off to Sgt. Diez in a fighting stance.”
Diez wrote that he felt threatened.
But the lawsuit asserts that Diez shoved Folino in the chest, causing him to stumble over a car lift and spin around. Diez then shoved him again, causing him to collide with the vehicle shoulder-first, the lawsuit says.
He was charged with second-degree obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest, but the lawsuit says the District Attorney’s Office dropped the charges in February.
Folino has had several arrests for being uncooperative with police. He filed suit in 2007 over a struggle with a Town of Niagara policeman after a 2004 traffic stop. The two sides reaches a settlement in that case in 2011. Folino had pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.
Charges filed against Folino by the same Town of Niagara policeman in 2009 were dismissed.
In November 2007, Diez shot Michael J. Rew in the abdomen on the front porch of Rew’s Town of Niagara home, after a newspaper delivery person called to report Rew was sitting on the porch with a shotgun at his side. Diez reported he thought Rew was reaching for the gun as he came up, so he fired.
Rew, who reportedly incurred more than $100,000 in medical bills, was charged with menacing a police officer, but the indictment was dismissed, and a second grand jury refused to indict Rew.
He sued Diez in 2008, but in September, State Supreme Court Justice Ralph A. Boniello III threw out the case because Diez’s actions were reasonable under the circumstances. Rew is appealing that ruling.