Town of Clarkstown highway department employee Dennis Malone
filed a defamation of character lawsuit on Monday against co-workers Frank
Sparaco and Wayne Ballard and Republican committee officials Vincent Reda and
Robert Axelrod in connection with secretly recorded tapes released in July. However,
as of Thursday afternoon, none of the four defendants had been served with the
Sparaco, the part-time Clarkstown Highway Department constituent services representative, covertly made video and audio recordings of meetings with his co-worker Malone, the department’s fleet manager, Clarkstown Councilman Frank Borelli, a Republican, and Rockland County Democratic Committee Attorney Larry Weissman. Upon releasing portions of the tapes, Sparaco claimed they showed a pattern of attempts to bribe and threaten him into aiding Malone’s candidacy to replace Ballard, a Republican, as highway superintendent.
Attorney Daniel Bertolino of Nyack filed the lawsuit, which claims defamation and defamation by implication in Rockland County Supreme Court against the four men as individuals and additionally against Reda as Rockland County Republican Committee chair, Axelrod as Clarkstown Republican Committee chair and Ballard as highway superintendent.
The legal action seeks unspecified monetary awards from all the defendants for falsely accusing Malone of a crime. The lawsuit states beginning July 16th, the day after tape excerpts were released, and for the next two weeks the four continued to allege that Malone had attempted to bribe Sparaco.
The lawsuit reads, “Specifically the Defendants accused Plaintiff of having offered the Defendant Sparaco a job in the Town of Clarkstown Highway Department if he (Sparaco) would provide political support to Malone’s campaign for Town of Clarkstown Highway Superintendent. That allegation is false.”
A message was left for Bertolino to find out when the papers would be served.
Sparaco, also a Rockland County legislator, characterized Malone’s lawsuit as a “joke” and said he is looking forward to the deposition.
“I have the truth on my side and it happens to be back up by high definition video,” said Sparaco, who later added, “How do you argue with videotapes that show him trying to bribe me?”
Reda said Malone cannot deny he was in the video. Ballard said there was no merit to the lawsuit and he viewed it as a political tactic to get media attention prior to the election. On the advice of his attorney Axelrod said he would not comment.
Malone is seeking unspecified monetary damages from “physical injury, mental anguish, embarrassment and emotional injury” and special damages awards for “loss of compensation and financial harm,” punitive damages and an order preventing Sparaco, Ballard, Reda and Axelrod from making other defamatory statements about him.
Borelli is contemplating legal action but has not indicated whether he has made a final decision.
“There is plenty of time to file a lawsuit and as long as my accusers continue to butcher the truth and to attack me publicly they are only making my case easier to prove,” said Borelli. “I'm just allowing them more rope with which to hang themselves. It's important to note that, unlike my accusers, I've never sought anything for myself and I have never had anything personally to gain from any of my actions.”
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