Westchester Cnty. Independence Party v. Astorino, 13–CV–7737(KMK).

Citation137 F.Supp.3d 586
Decision Date08 October 2015
Docket NumberNo. 13–CV–7737(KMK).,13–CV–7737(KMK).
Parties The WESTCHESTER COUNTY INDEPENDENCE PARTY, Irma Y. Drace, Dhyalma N. Vazquez, Sam Zherka, and DR. Giulio Cavallo, Plaintiffs, v. Robert P. ASTORINO, Robert A. Astorino, Douglas A. Colety, Kevin J. Plunkett, Daniel L. Pagano, Guy Parisi, Westchester County Board of Elections, Westchester County Republican Party, Morgan D. Abdelnour, Robert G. Alberty, Elisabeth Alberty, Christopher R. Arnold, Nicolina Bommarito, Francesca K. Bossey, Daniel Branda, Lisa Burke, Natasha C. Caputo, Christopher S. Caputo, Thomas P. Casper, James F. Castro–Blanco, John A. Cerino, Theodora Cerino, Sunny K. Chacko, James R. Coleman, Diana Costello, Johnna Culligan, Joseph Dalli, Nicholas S. DeCicco, Maricelly Velez–Delgado, Peter DeLucia, Charles P. Duffy, Jessica R. Egan, Anthony F. Ferriello, Brian P. Furlong, Martin Finneran, Gerard R. Gershonowitz, Deborah Gerace, Phillippe M. Gille, Lindsay Ann Jackson, Joseph D. Kenner, Patricia E. Leavy, Gerard Longarzo, Jr., Mary Jennings Mahon, Sheila Marcotte, James Maisano, John B. McCaffrey, Matthew J. McCarrick, Diana McCaughey, Philomena M. McCloskey, Felicia McCloskey, Edwin J. McCormack, Evelyn M. McCormack, Rosemary A. McGlaughlin, Robert F. Meehan, Eileen Mary Mildenberger, Amanda Modugno, Michael Anthony Monteleone, William M. Mooney, III, Henry C. Neubeck, Deborah S. Ogden, George Oros, Christina A. Oros, Iris Theresa Pagan, Anthony Pilla, Kathryn C. Plunkett, David P. Polizzi, Michael Recca, Thomas M. Reddy, Victoria Roach, Adam Rodriguez, Elena Fortuna Rogliano, Donald B. Scott, Stephanie T. Scott, Christine A. Sculti, Margaret M. Sculti, Bernice Spreckman, Arthur R. Sullivan, Jr., John G. Testa, Britta Vander Linden, Yu Flora Wu–Biagi, Lucas A. Vander Linden, Alberto F. Villate, Holly C. Young, Edward A. Zebzda, Nancy Meehan, Frank Catalina, Hugh Fox, Jr., Katherine Delgado, Moses Pabon, Edward Fagan, Javier Vincens, and Brendan Murnane, Defendants.
CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York

Peter Howard Tilem, Esq., Tilem and Campbell, LLP, White Plains, NY, for Plaintiffs.

William Patrick Harrington, Esq., Richard Francis Markert, Esq., Susan Elizabeth Galvao, Esq., Bleakley Platt & Schmidt, LLP, White Plains, NY, for Defendants Robert A. Astorino, Robert P. Astorino, Kevin J. Plunkett, Morgan D. Abdelnour, Robert G. Alberty, Francesca K. Bossey, Daniel Branda, Natasha C. Caputo, Thomas P. Casper, James F. Castro–Blanco, John A. Cerino, Sunny K. Chacko, James R. Coleman, Diana Costello, Joseph Dalli, Maricelly Velez–Delgado, Peter DeLucia, Charles P. Duffy, Jessica R. Egan, Anthony F. Ferriello, Brian P. Furlong, Martin Finneran, Gerard R. Gershonowitz, Phillippe M. Gille, Lindsay Ann Jackson, Joseph D. Kenner, Patricia E. Leavy, Gerard Longarzo, Jr., Sheila Marcotte, James Maisano, John B. McCaffrey, Matthew J. McCarrick, Edwin J. McCormack, Rosemary A. McGlaughlin, Eileen Mary Mildenberger, Amanda Modugno, William M. Mooney, III, Deborah S. Ogden, George Oros, Iris Theresa Pagan, Daniel L. Pagano, Michael Recca, Elena Fortuna Rogliano, Stephanie T. Scott, Christine A. Sculti, Donald B. Scott, Bernice Spreckman, Arthur R. Sullivan, Jr., John G. Testa, Britta Vander Linden, Lucas A. Vander Linden, Yu Flora Wu–Biagi, Katherine Delgado, Edward Fagan, and Brendan Murnane.

Ronald George Crispi, Esq., Peter Riggs, Esq., Cerussi & Spring, White Plains, NY, for Defendants Robert A. Astorino, Guy Parisi, Elisabeth Alberty, Christopher S. Caputo, Theodora Cerino, Diana McCaughey, Philomena M. McCloskey, Felicia McCloskey, Evelyn M. McCormack, Henry C. Neubeck, Christina A. Oros, Kathryn C. Plunkett, Thomas M. Reddy, Victoria Roach, Margaret M. Sculti, Frank Catalina, Moses Pabon, Hugh Fox, Jr., and Javier Vincens.

Fred N. Knopf, Esq., John Martin Flannery, Esq., Allison Michelle Holubis, Esq., Peter Alexander Meisels, Esq., Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, White Plains, N.Y. and Stamford, CT, for Defendants Douglas A. Colety and Westchester County Board of Elections.

James John Mahon, Esq., Lawler Mahon & Rooney LLP, New York, NY, for Defendants Daniel L. Pagano, Thomas P. Casper, Joseph Dalli, Charles P. Duffy, Mary Jennings Mahon, Rosemary A. McGlaughlin, and Lucas A. Vander Linden.

John Martin Murtagh, Jr., Esq., Gaines, Novick, Ponzini, Cossu & Venditti, LLP, White Plains, NY, for Defendant Westchester County Republican Party.

Howard M. Miller, Esq., Jessica Christine Moller, Esq., John F. McKay, III, Esq., Richard S. Finkel, Esq., Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, Garden City, NY, for Defendants Christopher R. Arnold, Nicolina Bommarito, Lisa Burke, Johnna Culligan, Nicholas S. DeCicco, Deborah Gerace, Michael Anthony Monteleone, Anthony Pilla, David P. Polizzi, Adam Rodriguez, Alberto F. Villate, Holly C. Young, Edward A. Zebzda, and Nancy Meehan.

Brian S. Sokoloff, Esq., Mark Anthony Radi, Esq., Sokoloff Stern LLP, Carle Place, NY, for Robert F. Meehan.

Justin Richard Adin, Esq., Westchester County Attorney's Office, White Plains, NY, for Defendant Hugh Fox, Jr.

OPINION & ORDER

KENNETH M. KARAS

, District Judge.

Irma Y. Drace ("Drace"), Dhyalma N. Vazquez ("Vazquez"), Sam Zherka ("Zherka"), and Dr. Giulio Cavallo ("Cavallo") (collectively, the "Individual Plaintiffs"), and The Westchester County Independence Party (the "Independence Party" or the "Party") (together, with the Individual Plaintiffs, "Plaintiffs") bring suit against 90 Defendants, under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961 et seq.

Plaintiffs allege that Defendants violated and conspired to violate 18 U.S.C § 1962(b) and § 1962(c). Plaintiffs also allege that Defendants individually violated and conspired to violate the constitutional protections of the Due Process Clause, the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clause, and that Defendants Westchester County Board of Elections ("Board of Elections") and Douglas A. Colety ("Colety") committed the state tort of breach of fiduciary duty. Defendants move to dismiss all claims against them. For the following reasons, Defendants' Motions To Dismiss are granted.1

I. Background
A. Factual Background

The following factual summary is derived from Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"), which is assumed to be true for the purposes of these Motions.

1. The Parties

The Independence Party is a political third party located in the County of Westchester. (SAC ¶ 1.) Plaintiff Drace was an employee in the Westchester County Attorney's Office Law Department and is the Treasurer of the Westchester County Independence Party. (Id. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff Vazquez is the Vice–Chair of the Independence Party, an Executive Committee member of the New York State Independence Party, a County Committee member, a District Leader and a Judicial Delegate. (Id. ¶ 3.) Zherka is a member of the Independence Party, and a District Leader. (Id. ¶ 4.)2 Cavallo is the Chairman of the Independence Party and the New York State Executive Committee Vice Chairman, as well as a Westchester County Judicial Delegate, County Committee Member, and District Leader. (Id. ¶ 5.)

A full description of the more than 90 Defendants is unnecessary, with the exception of Robert P. Astorino ("Astorino").3 Astorino was elected Westchester County Executive in 2009. (See, e.g., id. ¶ 100.)

Plaintiffs allege that all other Defendants were connected to Astorino in some way, for example, that they were employed by him, friends with him, related to him, or related to, friends with, or employed by people connected to him. (See id. ¶¶ 7–95.)

2. The Alleged Scheme

As alleged by Plaintiffs, this case concerns a scheme to raid the Independence Party in anticipation of the September 2013 primary election in order to ensure that Astorino, a Republican, would win the Independence Party nomination for County Executive, whereby more than 4,000 people who were not truly in sympathy with the principles of the Independence Party enrolled in the Party "at the midnight hour" in order to vote in the primary. (See id. at 9–10; ¶¶ 71, 603–04.) Under New York election law, individuals must register in a party well in advance of a primary election; thus, the deadline for registering in the Independence Party for the primary election held on September 10, 2013 was October 12, 2012 at 5 p.m. (Id. ¶¶ 71, 120.)4

Plaintiffs allege that in 2010, Astorino "began an elaborate scheme to infiltrate and raid the Independence Party in a bid to rig the outcome of the September 10, 2013, countywide Independence Party primary elections." (Id. ¶ 225.) As evidence of this, Plaintiffs point to a phone call between Astorino and Zherka that occurred in March 2013, wherein Astorino allegedly stated that "he and his cohorts essentially raided the Independence Party to ‘buy insurance’ in an attempt to rig and manipulate the outcome of the Independence Primary Election and to ‘decapitate’ duly elected, Independence Party Chairman Giulio Cavallo and Vice Chairperson Dhyalma Vazquez, rendering them politically irrelevant so that no one [would] ever need their support or endorsement." (See id. ¶¶ 226, 231.) In this phone call, Astorino allegedly stated that "he knew immediately after getting elected in 2009 that he would not be re-endorsed by the Westchester County Independence Party chairman Dr. Giulio Cavallo," and therefore decided on the course of action to raid the party. (Id. ¶ 226.)

According to Plaintiffs, Defendants "used phones, email, fax, mail, and other forms of electronic communications, in order to scheme and defraud others, by falsely representing that these individuals were in sympathy with the principles of the Independence Party or in related efforts to raid the Independence Party," (SAC ¶¶ 46–47, 51, 54, 56–58, 60, 61, 63, 65–66, 72–73, 75–77, 79–91, 93, 95, 271, 374, 384, 394, 397, 410, 414, 417–21, 425–27, 430, 432–33, 438–39, 447–49, 452, 454–56, 458–60, 462, 502–03, 518, 520), and that they actively participated in registering friends, family, and...

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