Former New Paltz School Board President Donald Kerr is suing Town of New Paltz Police Chief Joseph Snyder, Detective Sgt. R. Lucchesi and two United States Postal Service workers after he was arrested on Nov. 4, 2011 for signing a package containing 8 pounds of marijuana worth $32,000.
The ordeal began when two postal workers arrived at his office on 183 Main St. with a package he did not order nor did he have knowledge of what was enclosed, according to the official court complaint.
He signed for the delivery, which was addressed to Shawn Mulligan, and planned to deliver it to the proper recipient. Kerr was immediately placed in handcuffs after accepting the package, according to his court complaint. He was charged with possession of marijuana on Nov. 7.
Kerr is suing the defendants for infringing on his constitutional rights on that day.
“As defendants, acting under color of state law, personally violated the constitutional right of the plaintiff to be free from unreasonable search, seizure and detention without reasonable suspicion or arguable probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment, as made actionable against them by and through the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, this Honorable Court has jurisdiction over this matter,” the complaint said.
According to Kerr, he was detained and questioned in his own office and was denied the ability to call an attorney to represent him. His laptop, which served him for several years as his work computer, was confiscated and not returned to him until June 1, 2012, he said.
“The computer contained years of contacts, emails, invoices, signed agreements and other valuable and important documents accessible only via that laptop,” the complaint said.
At the suggestion of the education board trustees, Kerr stepped down from his position as president of the school board after his arrest was made public, according to the complaint. He also lost $60,000 of his business income due to the confiscation of his business computer.
“It is impossible to exaggerate the damage that was done by this false and reckless arrest; damage to my reputation, damage to my family, loss of my elected office and losses at my New Paltz-based business,” Kerr said.
Kerr is suing the defendants individually and plans on presenting his case in front of a court and jury panel, the complaint said.
“Nothing is personal here,” he said. “There is a process to follow and I will follow it. I look forward to the end of this painful saga.”