Anthony Pacherille Sr., whose son is in state prison for shooting a Cooperstown High School classmate three years ago, has filed a lawsuit against Otsego County, the Oneonta Police Department and Otsego County Judge Brian Burns, maintaining he was “maliciously prosecuted” after he was arrested shortly after he went to the judge’s home in 2011.
A charge of second-degree harassment, brought against Pacherille Sr., was dismissed last year. The charge grew out of an encounter Pacherille had when he went to Burns’ home in the city of Oneonta and spoke to the judge’s wife, telling her he planned to stage a demonstration there. The incident happened 11 days after Judge Burns sentenced Anthony Pacherille Jr. to 11 years in state prison for shooting Wesley Lippitt in a hallway outside the Cooperstown Village Police station April 2010.
After the shooting, Pacherille Jr. shot himself. Both teens later recovered.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Pacherille Sr. in U.S. District Court by attorney Frank Policelli of Utica, maintains Pacherille Sr.’s actions were protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution.
The lawsuit says the Pacherille Sr. suffered “physical and emotional” trauma as the result of being arrested by Oneonta Police, based on the complaint filed by the judge.
Since being arrested on the harassment charge, Pacherille Sr. has lost his home in Cooperstown via a foreclosure proceeding, according to the lawsuit, which seeks a total of $6 million in punitive and compensatory damages.
A call to Burns’ chambers for comment was referred to the state Office of Court Administration, whose spokesman declined to comment. The spokesman, David Bookstaver, said the state Attorney General’s office generally represents judges when they become defendants in civil litigation.
In May, a state appeals court upheld the prison sentence imposed by Burns on Anthony Pacherille Jr. The Appellate Division, Third Department, found Burns had no bias against Pacherille Jr. after the youth pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder and accepted a plea agreement.
Policelli had argued that the sentence was excessive.