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Ex-Rochester police official, court worker file defamation lawsuit against attorney

Plaintiff was named Irondequoit police chief Tuesday

By: Bennett Loudon//January 18, 2023

Ex-Rochester police official, court worker file defamation lawsuit against attorney

Plaintiff was named Irondequoit police chief Tuesday

By: Bennett Loudon//January 18, 2023

A former deputy chief in the Rochester Police Department, who was named Irondequoit police chief on Tuesday, and his wife, a federal court worker, are suing a lawyer who claims they attended and helped organize a party with an allegedly racist theme.

The plaintiffs, Scott Peters and Amy Andrews, who are married, are suing attorney Nathan D. McMurray for defamation for spreading disinformation about their alleged involvement with the party. They are seeking punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.

Invitations called the event the First Annual Liberal Smashin Splish Splash Pool Party. It was held on July 7 at the East Avenue home of Nicholas Nicosia and Mary Znidarsic-Nicosia.

The party first attracted media attention after a notice of claim was filed against the city of Rochester by Jerrod Jones, a Rochester firefighter, who is Black. He claims a captain ordered him and other firefighters to attend the party while they were on duty.

According to the Jones lawsuit, party decorations included Juneteenth flags, buckets of KFC and bottles of Hennessy cognac.

The most recent lawsuit accuses McMurray of trying to link Peters to the party in an effort to sabotage his chances of becoming Irondequoit police chief.

In a news release Tuesday, Irondequoit Supervisor Rory Fitzpatrick announced that Peters was named police chief, pending successful completion of a full background investigation. Peters will replace Alan Laird, who retired in November.

According to the lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court by Peters and Andrews, they “were not in attendance at the party, were not invited to the party, and in no way have any connection to the party.”

The plaintiffs are represented by attorney Jessica S. Gulla.

On Dec. 19, the suit claims, McMurray, an Erie County resident, sent an email to the Irondequoit town attorney claiming that Scott Peters was at the party “and was part of the clique of organizers.”

McMurray also wrote in the email that he knows Peters was at the party because there are witnesses to his presence and “a report by the city of Rochester also indicates that (he) was there,” according to the suit.

“No person has testified in any manner that Mr. Peters was at the party nor has any report by the city of Rochester indicated that Mr. Peters (nor Ms. Andrews) was at the Party,” according to the complaint.

McMurray “has not provided the town with any documentation to support his defamatory statements,” the suit claims.

On Dec. 9, Peters signed a conditional job offer with the town to become the new police chief.

In the email, McMurray wrote that the town was being “made plainly aware of Mr. Peters’ apparent character and behavior.” McMurray wrote that he hoped the town “will act responsibly and reject Peters’ application and candidacy for employment as police chief.”

The email was sent “to demonstrate that Mr. Peters is professionally unfit and lacks the integrity to perform the duties for the position he had just accepted, and to damage Mr. Peters’ character and reputation … to induce the town into believing he is unsuitable to serve as their chief of police,” the suit claims.

The email also “incorrectly states that Ms. Andrews called (McMurray) threatening him, and that (McMurray) reported this call to the city of Rochester, various law enforcement agencies, and the Attorney General,” the suit claims.

Andrews did call McMurray from her work phone on Sept. 2, but did not threaten McMurray. And McMurray never actually reported the call to the city of Rochester, law enforcement agencies, or the Attorney General, according to the complaint.

McMurray noted in his email that he represents Patrina Freeman, a member of the Irondequoit Town Board, in a pending discrimination lawsuit against the town seeking $1 million in damages.

On Dec. 8, the town sent Peters a conditional job offer to serve as the new police chief. The next day he signed the conditional job offer from the town, accepting the position, pending a background investigation.

McMurray sent the email to the town attorney on Dec. 19.

According to the lawsuit, the email states: “If the town of Irondequoit proceeds with the hiring of Mr. Peters, I will make this email public, and we will consider it a sign of open disregard for our clients’ rights.”

On Dec. 15, McMurray sent an email to the town on behalf of Freeman stating that Freeman was “kept out of meeting regarding the hiring of new members of the police force, without justification.”

McMurray “sent the email riddled with defamatory statements to intimidate the town in an effort to block the hiring of Mr. Peters and to damage Mr. Peters’ reputation,” the lawsuit claims.

On Dec. 19, as a result of the email sent by McMurray, the Irondequoit town supervisor called Peters asking about the party and his involvement.

Peters denied his attendance or any involvement with the party, according to the suit.

The next day Peters was informed that the resolution to hire him as police chief “was not going to move forward and be voted on that date, as previously scheduled,” according to the suit.

[email protected] / (585) 232-2035

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