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New Canaan resident sues town for up to $11 million

Updated 12:55 pm, Friday, September 14, 2012

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  • Michael Nowacki filed a federal lawsuit against officials and residents of New Canaan, Conn., Sept. 10, 2012. Photo: Autumn Driscoll, ST / Connecticut Post
    Michael Nowacki filed a federal lawsuit against officials and residents of New Canaan, Conn., Sept. 10, 2012. Photo: Autumn Driscoll, ST

 

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New Canaan resident Michael Nowacki has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the town of New Canaan and many of its employees and officials.

The suit, which contains 96 points of complaint, seeks up to $11 million in compensatory damages based on the alleged violations of the plaintiff's rights for malicious negligence on the part of town officials of their duties, and for official retaliations against him as a whistle-blower.

Fifty-five individuals and companies are named as defendants in the suit, including 20 members of the police department and all three members of the police commission.

Several of the defendants were contacted for comments, but could not comment on pending litigation.

One of the allegations states the police department committed honest services fraud in its handling of the issue of free or reduced-price alarm services given to members of the police force by the New Canaan Alarm Company between 2002 and 2007, and the subsequent reduction in the discipline meted out to officers involved following the incident.

Another allegation declares Nowacki takes the status of financial whistle-blower in reporting the alleged misuse of an estimated $4 million to $4.5 million granted to the New Canaan school district over the past seven years for "special needs education," which according to the suit was misused by the district to make payments to the legal firm of Shipman and Goodwin. As a whistle-blower, Nowacki would stand to receive between 25 and 30 percent of the damages and federal grant money collected from the alleged misconduct.

Nowacki said that he hopes that, among other things, the suit will improve town governance.

"I want to purge the corruption. I want to take the cancer out of this town."

The suit itself speaks in no less colorful language. Point 47 reads, "Plaintiff alleges in this complaint, that the Town of New Canaan, often referred to as the `Next Station to Heaven,' has become a cesspool of public corruption and a toxic waste dump for abridgements of the Town Charter" as well as the Code of Ethics and conflicts of interest statements.

While many in town would not comment, Democratic Selectman Beth Jones, a defendant in the suit, shared her experience with Nowacki. When asked if she had received the paperwork for the lawsuit, she said, "Which one?"

"He's got tons of them against almost everyone in town. I just don't even know what to say. He's got ones against all the state police. ... I'm not worried that there's anything legitimate in this complaint that I should be concerned about."

She also spoke of Nowacki's prodigious use of the Freedom of Information Act.

"I know that it costs a fortune in time complying with his FOI requests. I would bet that there would be hundreds of hours spent. I'm 100 percent behind the FOI, but he comes in with thousands of pages he needs every time, every time an officer's name is mentioned in memos and emails. And you have to comply, you have to go through 10 years of memos and minutes, and it's so time consuming. I don't know how (Town Administrator) Tom (Stadler) keeps patient with it," she said.

Nowacki is no stranger to the legal system in the state of Connecticut. In May, he was sentenced to 15 months in prison on charges that he harassed his ex-wife and violated a judge's protective order. During the trial he reportedly acted as his own attorney, cross-examining himself on the witness stand and calling Bruce Hudock, the judge overseeing the case, "The Wizard of Corrupticut." He is out on appeal.

Nowacki's lawsuit is docket number 3:12-001296 in the U.S. District Court of Connecticut and was file at 3:05 p.m. on Friday Sept. 7, according to Nowacki.

twoods@bcnnew.com; 203-972-4413; @Woods_NCNews