Trooper files lawsuit

A New York State Trooper has filed a lawsuit against the State Police, the New York City Police Department and the Queens District Attorney’s office, charging that secretly-recorded conversations through a wiretap by the NYPD between the Trooper and an individual deemed as a suspect were illegally used against the Trooper in disciplinary matters. Trooper Todd Bohmer of Troop K filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in White Plains.

Below is an article from The Journal News about the lawsuit.

(Original publication: October 26, 2006)

Secretly-recorded conversations between a state trooper from the Somers barracks and an organized crime suspect were illegally used against the trooper in a disciplinary hearing, a federal lawsuit charges.

State police Trooper Todd Bohmer, a 10-year veteran, filed the civil rights lawsuit yesterday in U.S. District Court in White Plains.

State police officials suspended Bohmer earlier this year for 60 days without pay following a disciplinary hearing that stemmed from tapes made by New York City police detectives and the Queens District Attorney during an investigation of a suspected organized crime figure.

Bohmer was recorded in several conversations between 2003 and 2005 talking with the subject of the investigation, State Police Benevolent Association leaders and Bohmer’s lawyer said at a news conference yesterday after filing the lawsuit. The suit names the state police, its top administrators, the New York City police department and the Queens District Attorney’s office as defendants.

The trooper was raised by the suspect’s family from the age of 12, said Pat Bonanno, Bohmer’s lawyer. The suspect was "actually a surrogate brother" to him, Bonanno said. Bohmer, who lives in Patterson, did not attend the news conference.

The tapes used against Bohmer were illegally obtained by the NYPD, the lawsuit charges, and should not have been turned over to the state police. The lawsuit accuses state police of a pattern of using illegally obtained material against troopers in administrative hearings.

"The police and the government need to follow the law," said PBA President Daniel M. De Federicis. "It’s that simple."

A spokesman for the state police, Sgt. Kern Swoboda, said state police officials had not yet been served with the lawsuit. He declined to comment on the allegations.

The PBA and the state police administration locked horns this year over the five-month search for fugitive Ralph "Bucky" Phillips, who killed one state trooper and wounded two others while on the lam in upstate New York. De Federicis criticized state police Superintendent Wayne Bennett’s handling of the manhunt in a letter to state officials, calling the operation "poorly planned, poorly organized, poorly led, and poorly executed."

In the Bohmer case, the PBA is also pointing the finger at the NYPD. Bohmer’s lawyer said the NYPD was required by federal and state law to turn off the wire-tap after determining that Bohmer and the suspect were not discussing criminal activity. But the NYPD kept the wire running.

"They were talking about holiday events, old girlfriends," Bonanno said. "There was never any criminal activity spoken about."

The NYPD notified state police officials last year that a trooper had been heard on the wiretap, Bonanno said.

NYPD Det. Kevin Czartoryski, a department spokesman, declined to comment on the case, saying officials hadn’t yet reviewed the lawsuit.

Bohmer works out of the Lewisboro sub-station of the Somers barracks, said state police Trooper William Staviski, a PBA delegate. Bohmer is back at work on full duty, he said.

But Bohmer’s once successful and promising career has been lost due to the disciplinary hearing, Bonanno said. His lawsuit seeks $2 million in compensatory damages and another $4 million in punitive damages.

"His name has been besmirched beyond repair and recognition at this point," Bonanno said.