The Linwood Police Department faces a lawsuit alleging wrongful arrest filed by a Somers Point man who spent a night in the Atlantic County jail in 2010 for, he says, the contents of a private Facebook message to an officer.
The case was filed in mid-October by Vassilios “Basil” Adamakos, a resident for more than 30 years in the region, who said he was wrongfully arrested in 2010, for sending a nonthreatening private Facebook message to a Linwood police officer.
“I know the message was not in good taste, it wasn’t supposed to be, but it wasn’t supposed to be threatening,” Adamakos said in a phone interview this week.
The dispute began when Adamakos was pulled over in August 2007, while traveling through Linwood, for an expired inspection sticker, he said.
The officer and Adamakos had an argument, which resulted in the officer arresting Adamakos on charges of obstruction of justice, according to the police report. But Adamakos was not sent to jail that time.
The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the charges two months later.
In 2010, Adamakos was on the social network site Facebook and stumbled upon the officer who had arrested him. He sent the officer a private message, which can only be viewed by the recipient, and said the officer was a disgrace to the department and added a negative comment about the profile picture of the officer.
This was enough to be considered harassment, according to Linwood police Chief Robert James. “Depending on what is said, and what people think they say versus what someone interprets can be different, and people don’t think about that sometimes before they hit the send button.”
The complaint warrant, which resulted in the Dec. 2, 2010, arrest, charged Adamakos with criminal offenses of fourth degree stalking and third degree harassment.
Though he was not serving as chief when the 2007 and 2010 incidents took place, he is aware of the situation.
“The city of Linwood is going to vigorously defend the officer and his actions, and the officer will be found to have acted within policies, procedures, guidelines and statutes,” James said.
In the investigation report, police wrote that Adamakos “has continued to harass the victim since the accused’s arrest in 2007.”
Incidents of harassment are cited as Adamakos’ proximity to officers on duty at a DUI checkpoint, and screaming out to the officer as he drove by them.
Adamakos said he did scream out to the officer, but the incident regarding his proximity to the checkpoint was a result of him visiting a family member who lives near the police station.
“What are we? In the ex-Soviet Union?” Adamakos said. He said the arrest warrant was well-timed.
It was served at 10:30 p.m., by Somers Point police, who held him until the Linwood Police Department took custody of him, he said.
“I’ve been around for so long, so I know people, and the Somers Point police kept telling me, ‘Basil, don’t worry about it,’” Adamakos said.
But by the time he was processed in Linwood it was about midnight, and bail was set at $15,000 cash.
“Where am I going to get it at midnight on a Friday?” Adamakos asked. “It was designed to send me to the county jail.”
As a result of the “beautiful night spent in jail,” Adamakos has an arrest record.
“They accomplished what they wanted to,” Adamakos said, citing the effect on his reputation. “I’m 55. I’ve never been to jail before that in my life.”
“They abused the first amendment in the worst possible way. This is what the small police departments do around here. I had heard stories before but never had the pleasure of experiencing it,” he said.
Adamakos’ lawyer advised he plead guilty, which resulted in taking 12 weeks of anger management classes.
“I come from a very nice family. I am not a criminal,” Adamakos said.
For now he will be representing himself in court, though he is searching for a lawyer, he said. He just wanted to make sure he filed before the statute of limitations runs out, he said.
“I just want closure, because this has affected my life,” he said.
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