A Colorado man who claims he was a falsely arrested on a warrant out of Oneida County is seeking $250,000 in damages.
On Jan. 22, attorney Steve Lucareli of Eagle River filed a notice of claim against Oneida County and the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department on behalf of his client, Samuel A. Kibler of Cascade, Colo.
Kibler, 24, alleges he spent 33 days in jail after he was taken into custody on a false criminal complaint.
According to the notice of claim, “on or about July 18, 2012, the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office caused a four-count criminal complaint (three felony counts and one misdemeanor count) and arrest warrant to be filed with the Oneida County Clerk of Court’s Office.”
The notice of claim alleges the defendant named in the complaint was Kibler, while the prosecuting attorney who signed the complaint was Oneida County Assistant District Attorney Scott Moller. The notice of claim states the criminal complaint was signed by Oneida County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Hebein, who is identified as the complainant in the case.
According to the notice of claim, above Hebein’s signature on the complaint are the words, “based on the foregoing, the complainant believes this complaint to be true and correct.”
But according to Lucareli and Kibler, the complaint had a major flaw.
“Attached to, and in support of the criminal complaint, were 13 pages of reports authored by various members of the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department. Review of those reports shows that Samuel A. Kibler’s name does not appear in any of the reports. Thus, none of the supporting documents attached to the criminal complaint filed in Oneida County case #2012CF161 provide probable cause, or any other basis, to believe that Samuel A. Kibler committed any crime on any of the dates identified for any of the counts in the criminal complaint,” the notice of claim states.
The notice of claim also alleges Deputy Hebein “did not appropriately discharge his duty” resulting in Kibler’s wrongful arrest.
“As a result (of Hebein’s actions), a copy of the complaint and an arrest warrant were filed with the Oneida County Clerk’s Office, where such documents became a part of the public record, and became accessible to members of the public and the media, exposing Samuel A. Kibler to humiliation, ridicule, scorn, arrest, and incarceration, among other things, as a result of the patently false accusations contained in the documents,” the notice of claim states.
According to the notice of claim, Kibler was arrested by the Manitou Springs Police Department on Oct. 27, 2012, “at the request of the Oneida County DA’s Office.” He was told that he had been charged in a felony criminal complaint and “that the state of Wisconsin would be extraditing him back to Oneida County, Wisconsin.”
According to the notice of claim, “Kibler was held in the Colorado Justice Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., for 33 days. He was told that he was released after the State of Wisconsin failed to timely follow through with the proper extradition papers.”
As a result of the arrest, the notice of claim alleges Kibler’s car was impounded and upon his release he had to rent a car at a cost of approximately $800. Kibler also had to pay $1,650 to get his car out of impound and to secure the return of his personal property, which was inside the car, the notice of claim states.
Kibler also claims the alleged false arrest negatively impacted his employment.
“Prior to his incarceration, Kibler worked for Cave of the Winds and Altitude Organic Medicine, however, upon his arrest his employment was terminated, due to his inability to work as a consequence of his arrest and incarceration. ... All total, he lost approximately $2,125 in wages from Cave of the Winds and $3,340 from Altitude Organic Medicine,” the notice of claim states.
In addition to those losses, Kibler also alleges he lost his apartment while incarcerated. “He paid $1,100 to get his apartment back. In the meantime, he was forced to live with a friend for approximately two months,” the notice of claim states.
According to the notice of claim, the first criminal complaint was closed on Nov. 27, 2012, upon the motion of ADA Scott Moller, based upon “the interest of justice.”
Although the case was closed, Kibler claims he didn’t get out of jail right away.
“Despite being aware that, in the absence of a criminal complaint, there was no continuing basis to hold Samuel A. Kibler in the state of Colorado, it does not appear that ADA Moller took any steps to notify law enforcement in Colorado to release Kibler from jail. In fact, court records reveal that the detainer on Kibler was not lifted until at least two days later,” the notice of claim states.
A month later, another complaint was filed.
“On Dec. 28, 2012, a new criminal complaint and summons were filed against Samuel A. Kibler, again charging him with the same three felony counts that were alleged ... in the previously dismissed complaint. The prosecuting attorney who signed the criminal complaint in the new case is again identified as ADA Scott Moller,” the notice of claim states.
The second criminal complaint was signed by Deputy Ryan Rossing, according to the notice of claim.
This time, Kibler contacted Lucareli for help. He told the attorney he believed the Oneida County DA’s Office had charged him for crimes that may have been committed by a relative with the same last name.
Lucareli then called Oneida County District Attorney Mike Schiek to advise him of the alleged misidentification.
“On Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, Lucareli spoke with DA (Mike) Schiek about the false identification of Samuel Kibler in both of the criminal complaints that had been filed,” the notice of claim states. “Mr. Schiek told Lucareli that during the previous week, ADA Scott Moller had come into his office and told him that he (Mr. Moller) had ‘[screwed] up’ by issuing a criminal complaint charging Samuel Kibler with several crimes that Samuel Kibler was not responsible for committing. Mr. Schiek apologized for what had happened to Samuel Kibler and said that his office would do whatever it could to make it right with him.”
As of Jan. 30, neither of the criminal files in question are open for public inspection. According to online court records, both of the files have been sealed under the orders of Judges Michael Bloom and Patrick O’Melia.
According to the notice of claim, Kibler wants to be compensated for the loss of his freedom and related costs.
“As a result of the false accusations that were made against him, and the false complaints that were filed against him, and his false arrest and needless incarceration, Samuel Kibler demands that he be compensated in the amount of $250,000 for the various damages that he suffered as a direct and proximate cause of Scott Moller’s ‘[screw] up,’ and the failure of Deputies Robert Hebein and Ryan Rossing to discharge their ministerial duty. The County of Oneida is also placed on notice of Samuel Kibler’s claim against them for the acts of their agents and employees,” the notice of claim states.
According to the notice of claim, “Kibler feared for his welfare and safety because he was held in a jail with other dangerous inmates” and was subjected to “threats and harassment.”
“He has suffered humiliation, anxiety, embarrassment, and fear, among other things, as a direct and proximate cause of the false charges ... arrest and incarceration,” the notice of claim states.
Oneida County Sheriff Grady Hartman told media outlets he has no comment on the case at this time because the claim is still pending.
Schiek and Moller did not respond to phone messages prior to press time.
Oneida County Corporation Counsel Brian Desmond would not discuss the specifics of the case but said his office is reviewing the matter.
“We’re going to take a look at the case and discuss how we want to move forward as a county,” Desmond said.
A notice of claim is a common precursor to a civil lawsuit.
Lucareli says Kibler deserves compensation for what he endured.
“I think anytime somebody gets accused of something that they didn’t do, it’s an important case. In this situation, even more important than the false accusations is what it led to and that is this young man being falsely imprisoned for over a month of his life and then ultimately being released only to find out that what he had managed to build in his life had all been taken away from him as a consequence for being jailed for something he didn’t do. Finally, after he got out, learning that the same charges had been refiled against him by the same prosecutor and the same false accusation had been made a second time,” Lucareli said.
“Equally important is the fact that two law enforcement officers whose job it was to make sure that the complaints that they signed were true and correct failed to notice the most obvious thing, which is the person being charged wasn’t even referenced in the reports that were attached to the complaint. His name never appeared once. The complaints ought to say who did what and these reports didn’t say anything about the person being charged doing anything wrong.”
Marcus Nesemann may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.