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 Former owner of Public sues Middletown, claims harassment by ex-city officials

By Viktoria Sundqvist
Monday, November 12, 2012 5:48 PM EST

MIDDLETOWN — The former owner of Public Bar & Grill is suing the city and several officials in federal court claiming harassment, intimidation and a violation of civil rights, including the right to due process.

Public was forced to close on April 24, 2010, and owner Tyler DeVecchis filed for bankruptcy on Aug. 7, 2011. DeVecchis claims in his lawsuit filed Nov. 7 that he was forced to close due to the harassment and “relentless pursuit of contrived violations” by the city.

DeVecchis filed an intent to sue in August 2010, but this is the first actual lawsuit he has filed against the city.

The lawsuit claims DeVecchis suffered economic, personal and dignatory injuries including economic loss and loss of reputation.

In 2009, city officials complained over too many fights and arrests at the bar and said DeVecchis owed money in back taxes. When DeVecchis expanded the club, city officials said it was done without a permit.

A city zoning enforcement officer issued a cease and desist order Dec. 1, 2009, requiring Public to stop using the additional space until it has Planning and Zoning Commission permission to do so.

The bar’s liquor license was suspended a few months later after an entire shift of police officers had to respond to a fight that broke out among patrons. The state’s Department of Consumer Protection also launched an investigation of the establishment. Former DCP Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr. signed an order for a summary suspension, which allows the department to suspend a liquor license without a hearing if public health and safety is in danger.

The lawsuit names former Mayor Sebastian Giuliano, former Acting Police Chief Patrick McMahon, former Acting Deputy Police Chief Gregory Sneed, Farrell Jr., Zoning Enforcement Officer Bruce Driska and Planning, Conservation and Development Director Bill Warner.

“The complaint is meticulously detailed and speaks for itself,” said attorney Sally Roberts, who represents DeVecchis. “My client is looking forward to his day in court, and being able to put on his case before a jury. It is only in a court of law that those who abuse power get their comeuppance.”

The building where Public was previously located later housed Downtown Bar & Grill, which also closed. In the summer of 2012, LaBoca Mexican Restaurant and Cantina moved from the North End into the location.

                                                                              Devecchis Suit

                                                                         Notice of Intent to sue




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