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ALEOTTI v. BAARS

July 20, 1995

ERNESTO ALEOTTI, Plaintiff,
v.
PATRICIA BAARS, et al, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: PAUL L. FRIEDMAN

 Plaintiff filed this case pro se and pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the defendants conspired to violate his rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. *fn1" He seeks three million dollars in damages.

 I. BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff Ernesto Aleotti was arrested on May 3, 1991, by Sergeant John Hickey for puncturing the tires on an automobile owned by Patricia Baars, an individual with whom he had a personal relationship for some years. On December 11, 1992, Mr. Aleotti was convicted by a jury in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for violating D.C. Code § 22-403, malicious destruction of property. This conviction was affirmed by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Aleotti v. United States, No. 93-CO-553 (D.C., March 3, 1994). Plaintiff's petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court was denied on October 3, 1994. Aleotti v. United States, 130 L. Ed. 2d 25, 115 S. Ct. 70 (1994).

 Most of Mr. Aleotti's allegations in this case concern the actions of the various defendants in arresting Mr. Aleotti and in securing his prosecution and conviction in Superior Court, which actions, plaintiff asserts, violated his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. Specifically, plaintiff claims that defendant Patricia Baars conspired to entrap him, gave false information to the officers who investigated him and perjured herself and gave false evidence during his criminal trial. Complaint at P 8. Plaintiff avers that defendant Sergeant John Hickey conspired to entrap him, falsely arrested him, failed to read him his rights, tampered with evidence and perjured himself during plaintiff's criminal trial. Id. at P 9. Plaintiff further asserts that defendant Captain William Hennessey conspired to entrap him and that defendant Steven McCool maliciously prosecuted him. Id. at PP 11, 12. Plaintiff states in his opposition to defendants' motions that the claims are brought against defendants in their individual capacities only. Memo. In Support of Pl.'s Opp. to Defs.' Mot. For Summ. J. 9.

 Mr. Aleotti's claims against Special Agent Christopher Trainor arise from actions separate from his conviction for malicious destruction of property. These claims concern the execution of a subsequent search warrant at plaintiff's residence in Maryland and the confiscation of plaintiff's firearms and ammunition. Mr. Aleotti alleges that Special Agent Trainor used erroneous information in an affidavit presented to a magistrate judge to obtain a search warrant for Mr. Aleotti's home. Complaint at P 10. He avers that in obtaining the warrant and in executing it, Special Agent Trainor conspired with the other defendants to entrap and physically harm plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff asserts that the search itself was conducted as "a military style raid" that caused Mr. Aleotti to suffer emotional trauma. Id.

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. Mr. Aleotti's Arrest and Conviction for Malicious Destruction of Property.

 1. Heck v. Humphrey Analysis

 It is now established that in order to recover damages under section 1983 for harm caused by an allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment or for other actions that, if unlawful, would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a plaintiff must demonstrate that "the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. A claim for damages bearing that relationship to a conviction or sentence that has not been invalidated is not cognizable under § 1983." Heck v. Humphrey, 129 L. Ed. 2d 383, 114 S. Ct. 2364, 2372-73 (1994); see Williams v. Hill, 878 F. Supp. 269, 271-72 (D.D.C. 1995). When a plaintiff such as Mr. Aleotti seeks damages, the Court

 
must consider whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence; if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated. But if the district court determines that the plaintiff's action, even if successful, will not demonstrate the invalidity of any outstanding criminal judgment against the plaintiff, the action should be allowed to proceed, in the absence of some other bar to the suit.

 Heck v. Humphrey, 114 S. Ct. at 2372-73 (footnotes omitted).

 Mr. Aleotti is unable to prove that his conviction has been reversed, expunged, declared invalid or called into question. Indeed, it has been affirmed by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and his petition for a writ of certiorari has been denied by the Supreme Court. Accordingly, the Court must determine if success on his claims in this Section 1983 action would "necessarily imply the invalidity" of the Superior Court criminal judgment against Mr. Aleotti. In this case, the answer is clear: Mr. Aleotti's claims of entrapment, false testimony, perjury and tampering with evidence, as well as those relating to his Miranda rights and false arrest, all must fail under section 1983 and the reasoning of Heck v. Humphrey because for him to succeed necessarily would invalidate his conviction that already has been affirmed on appeal.

 Mr. Aleotti's entrapment claims and claims of conspiracy to entrap must be dismissed because success on these claims necessarily would invalidate plaintiff's criminal conviction. Success on his claims against Ms. Baars and Sergeant Hickey, alleging that they provided false information during the investigation and at trial, tampered with or withheld evidence and perjured themselves at trial, also would imply the invalidity of the criminal judgment and therefore must be dismissed. Similarly, success on plaintiff's claim that Sergeant Hickey falsely arrested him and failed to read him his rights would imply the invalidity of his conviction and therefore must be dismissed. *fn2" All of these claims are predicated on facts that existed and were known at the time of or prior to Mr. Aleotti's ...


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