Lawyer Sues Simsbury Police Over Arrest

The Hartford Courant

An attorney has filed a lawsuit against Simsbury police, charging he was falsely charged with stealing from a pellet company that he represented in a lawsuit brought by the state.

James Oliver, also of Simsbury, is alleging in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Hartford Superior Court that Detective Scott Sagan "knowingly submitted a false arrest affidavit" in 2013 charging Oliver with third-degree larceny.

The criminal case has since been nolled, according to court records, and the lawsuit alleges that it would never have even been brought except for animus towards Oliver shown by Sagan.

The lawsuit names the town and Sagan and seeks more than $15,000 in damages. Simsbury Police Chief Peter Invertsen said the department wouldn't comment.

The Statewide Grievance Committee is still pursuing a case against Oliver that is pending in Hartford Superior Court.

In 2008, Oliver started representing Steven Zaczynski, a former state prison guard fired after being charged with worker's compensation fraud, and Jason Tynan. The men were owners of New England Pellet, which sold wood pellets throughout the area.

The company was sued by then-Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's office for failing to deliver pellets to customers in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Eventually, the Massachusetts Attorney General's office also filed suit seeking millions of dollars from the company.

In the course of representing the men, the suit states, Oliver hired Cynthia Michaud to do a forensic accounting of the business to prepare for a possible settlement with the attorney generals. The lawsuit drove the company into bankruptcy and the owners settled it for $50,000.

Zaczynski filed a complaint with Simsbury police alleging that Oliver and Michaud conspired to steal more than $350,000 from the pellet company.

Sagan investigated the case and submitted four arrest warrants that were not signed, according to the lawsuit. A warrant that was eventually signed in June of 2013 alleged that Oliver and Michaud defrauded Zaczynski of his retainer, which was $2,500.

The lawsuit alleges that Sagan knowingly left key facts out of the arrest warrant that would have made it likely it would not have been signed again, including a copy of a retainer agreement that showed Michaud worked for Oliver, not the pellet company, and Zacznyski's previous arrest for fraud, for which he received accelerated rehabilitation, the lawsuit said.

"Oliver and Michaud did a superb job for Tynan and Zaczynski, who turned on them when Oliver and Michaud confronted them with their latest forensic reports," the lawsuit said.

Sagan also did not include e-mails in which Zaczynski and Tynan threatened to ruin Oliver's reputation.

The lawsuit claims that Oliver's reputation has been permanently damaged by the arrest and that even though the charges were eventually nolled Oliver is still "living a nightmare."

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