Thursday, June 19, 2008.
Guardian Publisher Exposes DA DiFiore’s ‘Dirty
Tricks’ To Stifle His First Amendment Rights
Last Tuesday, June 10, Westchester Guardian publisher Sam Zherka held a press conference to announce his placement, in escrow, of $100,000 with White Plains attorney Jonathan Lovett, and his offer to award the funds to whomever shall first come forward with verifiable, truthful information regarding any illegal or unethical activity or prosecutorial misconduct by DA Janet DiFiore and/or her friend, ADA Matthew Bogdanos, of the Manhattan DA’s Office, that leads to their arrest, conviction and/or disbarment.
Mr. Zherka presented the following to explain his unprecedented offer: Last March, The Westchester Guardian published an article critical
of New York State’s Chief Judge, Judith Kaye, in which some unflattering information regarding Janet DiFiore’s high powered attorney spouse, Dennis Glazer, was reviewed.
That article produced a violently angry and abusively intimidating telephone call from DA DiFiore to Publisher Zherka in which she threatened, “How would you like it if someone came after your family?”
Zherka told reporters, “Within a few weeks, my investigation reveals, she had her friend, Assistant DA Matthew Bogdanos, of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, send out subpoenas to several businesses I deal with.” Those subpoenas produced no evidence of wrongdoing by Zherka whatsoever.
In July and August of last year, Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone, closely aligned with DiFiore and with Attorney Michael Edelman, political consultant to each of them, ordered his Department of Public Works and his Police Department to confiscate 56 Guardian news boxes and thousands of newspapers.
Then, in September, Edelman began making false and defamatory accusations about Mr. Zherka on LoHud, the Journal News blog, and
other sites. Edelman created a list of entities and individuals who do business with Mr. Zherka, and who contributed to Dennis Robertson’s
campaign for Mayor of Yonkers. Edelman’s defamatory activities on the blog sites intensified right through October.
Zherka learned that during October, while the defamatory activity was being conducted on the blogs by Edelman, Phil Amicone, at a Republican political function, held at a church in Yonkers, in the presence of some 60 people, reiterated the defama-tory statements of
Edelman, attempting to implicate the publisher criminally, discredit him, and silence his exercise of Free Speech.
Zherka declared, “As a result, everyone who I introduced to Dennis Robertson’s campaign, and who made a contribution, received criminal subpoenas from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. It is no coincidence that in April 2007, Janet DiFiore told a person who was then close to her, and has since come forward because of the injustice, to report that Janet told him, ‘Don’t worry; I’m going to fix him.’ ”
Zherka told reporters, “Her misconduct was a blatant attack and retaliation against Free Speech.”
Having held his press conference on Tuesday, June 10, the very next day Zherka was served with more than 20 additional subpoenas.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
SELIM ZHERKA and THE WESTCHESTER
Plaintiffs, 08 Civ. 3469 ( )
JANET DiFIORE, individually, and THE
COUNTY OF WESTCHESTER,
Jury Trial Demanded
Plaintiffs SELIM ZHERKA and THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN, INC., by their attorneys Lovett & Gould, LLP, for their complaint respectfully state:
NATURE OF THE ACTION
1. This is an action for compensatory and punitive damages, as well as related declaratory and injunctive relief, proximately resulting from Defendants’ violation of Plaintiffs’ rights as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, 42 U.S.C. §1983.
2. The Court’s jurisdiction is invoked pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§1331, 1343.
3. Plaintiff SELIM ZHERKA is a citizen of the United States, a domiciliary of the State of New York, a resident of the Northern Counties, and the owner of Plaintiff THE WESTCHESTER GUARDIAN, INC, a New York domestic corporation having offices for the conduct of business at 2 William Street, White Plains, New York. As such he is the publisher/owner of The Westchester Guardian, a weekly newspaper, which commencing in August of 2006 began publishing articles concerning inter alia political corruption in the government of the County of Westchester, New York.
4. Defendant JANET DiFIORE (hereinafter “DiFiore”), who is sued in her individual and personal capacities only, at all times relevant to this complaint was the elected District Attorney of Defendant COUNTY OF WESTCHESTER, New York (hereinafter “County”), a municipal corporate subdivision of the State of New York duly existing by reason of and pursuant to the laws of said State. With respect to DiFiore’s conduct as set forth infra she acted as in her discretion as a final policymaking official of the County rather than on behalf of the People of the State of New York.