Judge throws out businessman Greco’s civil rights suit against city, King’s

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
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SCRANTON — A federal judge has thrown out a civil rights lawsuit filed by area businessman Thom Greco, ending a lengthy legal drama where Greco claimed his nightclub was targeted by Wilkes-Barre and King’s College due to the race of his patrons.

Greco filed his suit in 2011, claiming King’s conspired with the city and Luzerne County to force Greco’s nightclub, The Mines, out of business because its clients were largely black and Latino.

The Mines was open from September 2008 to the summer of 2009 on the 100 block of North Main Street.

According to Greco’s suit, city and county officials targeted The Mines with additional police scrutiny, and King’s pressed law enforcement to focus on the bar as parents reportedly threatened to remove their children from college.

But in an opinion issued Wednesday, U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo ruled largely in favor of the defendants, writing there was no evidence of the bar being targeted due to any racial animus.

Caputo points out on the night of April 30, 2009 — a night specifically highlighted, as officers performed a saturation patrol — testimony suggests the target of the patrol was not The Mines itself, but rather all bars in the area of King’s College.

Caputo granted summary judgment in favor of former Mayor Tom Leighton, former Chief of Police Gerald Dessoye, former Luzerne County Sheriff Michael Savokinas and former King’s President Thomas J. O’Hara.

Caputo wrote there was simply no evidence they were concerned about the race of the club’s patrons, adding there was no evidence they were even aware of their racial background.

However, one element of Greco’s suit was thrown out without being ruled on. Greco claimed the defendants interfered with business relationships, but Caputo writes his arguments were based in state, not federal law.

As such, Caputo did not issue a ruling, leaving Greco open to refile at least this element of the suit at a lower court level.

Efforts to reach Greco for comment were unsuccessful Thursday afternoon.

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By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan