A Pennsylvania contractor says his civil rights were violated when a Chester Township
police officer arrested him based on a client's accusations of theft, according to a federal suit filed at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Carl Jones, of Chester, Pa., says the police officer refused to consider his side of the story, forcing him to spend 11 months and $1,500 in litigation before a county judge dismissed the charges. Jones seeks punitive and compensatory damages from the officer, his accuser and Chester Township government for four counts including malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
According to the suit, in May 2012 Jones entered into a contract with a homeowner, Tammy Strand-Yarbray to repair her outdoor deck and resurface her driveway for $2,650, with a $350 initial deposit.
When repairs started on the deck, Jones discovered that the header board had completely rotted away, meaning the entire deck would have to be replaced, rather than fixed. Strand-Yarbray decided to cancel the contract, and Jones said he would refund her deposit by the end of the week, minus $150 for the work he had already performed.
Two days later, Jones received a phone call from Chester police officer Richard Barth, who accused Barth of theft. Jones explained the contract and the details of the cancellation and told the officer he was refunding Strand-Yarbray's money the following day.
Despite following through the next day and getting a receipt from Strand-Yarbray, a warrant for Jones' arrest was issued a month later, with charges of theft by deception, theft by unlawful taking of movable property and receiving stolen property. Eleven months later, the plaintiff had been cleared of wrongdoing at the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.
Jones is represented by Joseph Oxman of Oxman, Goodstadt, Kuritz in Chester.
The federal case ID number is 2:14-cv-03423-NIQA.