This is Part V in a series. To read from the beginning, go back to Part I.
After visiting Suzanne Ribando in the Westchester County Jail in the spring of 2008, Michael Galluzzi spoke with her criminal attorney to review the situation. He formed the opinion that there was no way the Westchester County District Attorney would have any interest to pursue as a criminal matter what amounted to a “he said-she said” dispute between neighbors. He gave these assurances to Suzanne and her mother, Betty Ribando.
All of that changed after the Felony Hearing on December 8th, 2008. The true motive of the Hickey’s became clear when ADA Michael Borelli made his startling request for a modification of the order of protection previously obtained by the Hickeys against Ribando:
…what the People are asking for at this point in time is an order directing defendant to stay away, stay off the block. The People are asking that she not be allowed to go back to the address that she’s been living at, that being 106 Stephenson Boulevard…the order is a full stay away, but I’m directing the Court to order her to stay away from 106 Stephenson Boulevard so the police can arrest if she goes back there…
As the primary caregiver to two elderly and infirm parents, barring Suzanne Ribando from setting foot on the block she grew up on was equivalent to forcing the entire family to move out of a home they had lived in for over 30 years. Galluzzi came to believe that Hickey would never be satisfied until Suzanne Ribando was driven out of her childhood home and that this had been his goal from the beginning. In other words, that Patrick Hickey moved into a house in 2004 and soon after decided that he could not enjoy living at that house unless the family that had lived next door for more than three decades moved out.
Galluzzi fears were confirmed later that same day when Hickey filed yet another uncorroborated complaint causing the arrest of Suzanne Ribando, at which point the DA went back in front of a judge asking that Ribando be banned from her own home. In what is, according to legal experts, an unconstitutional decision, Judge Gail Rice responded by banning Ribando from her own backyard making it a crime for Ribando to tend to her garden, play with her dog or sit outside at her patio table.
Still baffled as to why the District Attorney would bother with such a case, perplexed as to why police were so one-sided in dealing with the matter, it had become abundantly clear to Galluzzi that Patrick Hickey had some sort of pull with the police, the DA and the courts. At any rate, Galluzzi knew that the New Rochelle Police and New Rochelle courts would not protect Suzanne Ribando. The only way she could be protected from the Hickeys would be to go on the offensive. Galluzzi resolved to initiate a civil lawsuit against the Hickeys.
The worm was about to turn.
Having made up his mind to counter-attack whatever forces were conspiring against Suzanne Ribando, Galluzzi instructed her to ask people who knew her well for their assistance. It was difficult for Ribando as it meant revealing to her friends that she had been arrested, threatened suicide, and been locked up in the psychiatric unit at a hospital and spent a week in jail. Setting her embarrassment aside, Suzanne Ribando reached out to family friends like Judith Joy, Donna Ricardi and Nancy Palmer, each of whom wrote letters on her behalf, contacting Council Member James Stowe and New Rochelle Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll, among others. Her parish priest, Father Martin J. Biglin wrote a letter on her behalf. Raymond Craveiro, her long time neighbor at 104 Stephenson Boulevard, wrote a letter.
Ribando and her elderly parents were no longer in the fight alone.
The letters stand in stark contrast to the image of Suzanne Ribando painted by Patrick and Tracey Hickey, accepted blindly by the New Rochelle police, the DA’s office and judges in the New Rochelle City Court.
Suzanne has been a friend of mine for the past 20 years. She has been there for every adult milestone of my life–my marriage, my children, family tragedy, etc. Sue takes the time to listen, give advice, laugh with you, cry with you and lend a hand when you need it. She doesn’t have to be asked twice to help and she always has your best interest at heart. She has always been an ideal support and friend. I have never known her to have a mean bone in her body. When she comes to visit me, she always spends time playing with my children, even if it means having a tea party for the fourth time that day or reading a story five times in a row.
She has always been a happy, sweet., caring and responsible person. Suzanne, an only child, has given up a large portion of her life to dedicate her time to taking care of her elderly and very sick parents. They all live in New Rochelle .in the same house Sue has grown up in from the day she was born. They are life-long New Rochelle residents and her grandfather was even a New Rochelle Police Officer. Suzanne’s dad suffers from MS and other health issues and has been requiring more and more help the past few years. He has been in a wheel chair for years and now rarely leaves the bed. Her mom is getting on in years and relies on Suzanne to help with everyday chores and responsibilities. To this, Sue takes it all on by herself and she welcomes it, because of her love for her parents. They have never had problems with anyone, EVER! You would want them as your friends. Suzanne has never had any trouble with the law in her 34 years of life.
Father Martin J. Biglin:
I am delighted to write a letter of reference for Suzanne Ribando. As pastor of her parish for the last nineteen years, I have the privilege of knowing Suzanne and her family. As a student of Holy Name School, She was able to achieve honors.
I know her to he honest, responsible and understanding of others. She is especially devoted to her mother, Betty and father, Jim who is infirm.
I have resided at 104 Stephenson Blvd. for over thirty years. Suzanne and her parents Elizabeth and James have resided at 106 Stephenson Blvd. for thirty years. Our properties lines meet, therefore making us “next door Neighbors”. Although our families have not shared much of a social relationship over the last four decades. Suzanne and her family have always been polite, courteous and friendly to the extent that I could not ask to have a better person residing just a few feet away from my family and I.
Suzanne can best be described as a kind person. She has always been friendly with a wave and a smile as she comes and goes. She has never been loud, rude, or disrespectful. Moreover, Suzanne and her family have always been more than tolerant with respect to loud noises, music and parties that took place at my home when my children were younger. Suzanne has kept her parents property in pristine condition. She has taken care of her parents as they have aged, including her father who has been disabled for many years.
Judith Joy to James Stowe:
…Michael (sic) and Tracey Hickey know someone in the police department who is helping them or they have realized that with a little lying they can get away with anything. The Hickeys are claiming things that are untrue and impossible, yet the police choose to believe them without hearing from the other side. They don’t even allow Suzanne to be heard. In one incident, Sue spoke with one of your officers telling them, that Tracey Hickey verbally threatened to kill Suzanne while Sue was in her front yard. Michael Hickey (sic) also verbally threatened Sue’s life by saying “You’re dead” and pointing his finger at her. Suzanne’s mom was a witness and when they went to the police to file a report, Sue was told they didn’t want to hear it, they weren’t going to do anything about it and Suzanne’s mom wasn’t an independent witness so what she saw and heard doesn’t count…The Hickeys found a way to get a restraining order on Suzanne and this has been a tool for them to disrespect the law. They now watch for Suzanne to be around (either walking her dogs or running out for an errand) and then they present situations. Usually, within seconds of Sue coming out of the house, they mysteriously appear and make some gesture to her or verbalization and even though she ignores them, they call the police and make false claims.
I have know Suzanne since birth. Suzanne was born late in life to James and Betty Ribando and was raised as an only child. She attended Catholic Schools through high school and later graduated from Iona College cum laude. She is a well educated young lady and a source of pride to friends and family alike.
When Suzanne turned 16, her father was diagnosed with MS. As the disease progressed, it became necessary for Suzanne to leave her place of employment and stay home to co-manage her father’s illness and assist in his care. She is very loyal and family oriented and took on this responsibility without reservation.
I have always known Suzanne to be a very soft spoken, kind, and respectful individual. She has had to deal with difficult circumstances and has always conducted herself in a mature, responsible manner, putting others before herself.
I cannot speak highly enough of Suzanne. She posses all the traits that a well bred, gentle individual had and has always been a special person in our lives.
She has always been a caring, polite, reliable and responsible person. As a young woman she had had much responsibility. Her father became ill about 19 years ago with multiple sclerosis. As a result, Suzanne had had to help her mother in caring for her Dad as his condition worsened over the years. Quite a responsibility! Also, since her mother does not drive she has had to do grocery shopping, banking, going to the post office, etc. All this she has done willingly without complaining.
I hope this gives you some idea of what a fine, responsible, person Suzanne is.
Judith Joy to Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll
…During one incident of her arrest, Sue was waiting to be released and the officer kept walking towards her with the keys and then walking away laughing. This was done numerous times. In addition, an officer went through her pocket book making fun of all her contents, while she was waiting to be released. I don’t find the humor in any of this.
Detective Wilson is a man that seems to have dealt with the Hickeys and Suzanne’s case most often. He has not been fair (as also indicated in the Police Mission statement) to all parties-specifically Suzanne. He has been rude, dismissive and sarcastic at times toward Suzanne. Thus she does not feel that she can turn to the police when she needs help. She feels alone and that whatever she says will be dismissed or criticized by the police. She fears for her life every time she leaves her house and she can’t even go to the police for help. The latest example is when she was driving past her house and Michael (sic) Hickey was coming out of his house. As Suzanne was at a light, he drove up behind her and when they continued driving, and Suzanne tried to get away from him, he continued to follow her—-speeding up cutting her off, slowing down, weaving in and out towards her and then finally speeding off. This is accepted? This is ok? What if he had pushed her off the road and killed her? What would the police department say to her parents? There are so many restrictions put on her, that she can’t even enjoy her life. In addition, she must sit by and watch the Hickeys constantly get away with harassment. They are making a mockery of the police. The police have been pawns in their little game. It is time that someone takes a stand and stops these people from harassing my dear friend and making a joke of the police department. I am hoping and praying that person is you.
While Ribando was gathering these letters of support and Galluzzi was preparing to file a civil lawsuit, the Hickeys were continuing to seek ways to have Suzanne Ribando barred from the neighborhood.
In April 2009, Patrick Hickey gave another statement to Detective Jeff Wilson making new claims about Ribando. Wilson’s report of April 1, 2009 states the following:
I was contacted by Patrick Hickey who stated that his neighbor Suzanne Ribando has and continues to violate the valid order of protection prohibiting her from being in her back yard. On numerous occasions she is in her back yard walking around, playing loud music with cursing and other inappropriate material. Mr. Hickey also stated that Ms. Ribando has thrown dog feces over the fence onto his property numerous times. On April 3, 2009, this Detective responded to Mr. Hickey’s home and observed a very large pile of dog feces in the rear of his property. This Detective also took photos of this. I then met with several Assistant District Attorney’s from the New Rochelle Branch. Although they agreed that violations had occurred, they requested I attempt to obtain an independent witness or someone from the neighborhood that was a witness to these violations. I then contacted Mr. Hickey and explained this to him which he understood.
Meanwhile, Galluzzi was drafting a complaint against the Hickeys.
The Civil Complaint accused the Hickeys of assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, abuse of process, defamation, negligence, false imprisonment,trespass to land, trespass to chattels, nuisance, fraud and deceit, false reporting of an incident, harassment and stalking, perjury, conspiracy, and menacing. The Civil Complaint lays out, often in more details that provided in previous installments of Suzanne Ribando’s story on Talk of the Sound, a narrative of behavior by Patrick and Tracey Hickey and their two children, a wide range of forms of harassment which caused Ribando to be “terrorized, frightened, depressed, helpless, suicidal, anxious and in fear of her life” and also caused her to receive “medical treatment, psychiatric treatment, hospitalization and to sustain other damages”.
The narrative begins by noting that Suzanne Ribando lives with her parents in the home she grew up in, that she is the primary caregiver for a seriously ill father, and spends a great deal of time, or used to, outdoors in her backyard and garden. She has a pet, a small Yorkshire Terrier that plays in the backyard while she works in the garden. Unwilling to leave her parents alone for long periods of time, the dog, the backyard, and her gardening had been the primary enjoyment in life. The Hickeys, the complaint says, first began to intrude on this life in the summer of 2006 when Patrick Hickey, Jr. and Jack Hickey began a pattern of tormenting Suzanne Ribando’s dog and harassing Suzanne Ribando. It is the two boys, left unattended by their parents for long stretches of time in their backyard, that initiated the harassment of Suzanne Ribando by creating “excessive, frequent noise” by hitting the fence between the two properties with a ball or other objects or by beating on and smashing the fence loudly while playing in order to torment her dog. When Ribando complained, Patrick Hickey tried to shut her up by screaming at her and making unfounded accusations.
Over time, the complaint continues, Patrick Hickey “forced his way into Ribando’s life with his self-serving demands.”
- In June and July of 2006, the Hickeys maintained a spotlight on the side of their house which shone a high beam of light into the windows of Ribando’s residence, and alternated between the high beam and a low beam to create a flashing effect.
- In the summer of 2006 when exiting or entering their property via motor vehicle, the Hickeys would beep the horn of their vehicle.
- In November 2006, when Suzanne Ribando, was walking down the path of her backyard, defendant, Patrick Hickey, made disgusting animalistic coughing-spitting-throat-clearing noises of hacking and snot-clearing. Tracey Hickey, during this time also made drawn out noises with her mouth upon seeing Suzanne Ribando. Both the Hickeys cast hostile looks at Ribando in order to harass and intimidate her and inflict distress.
- On December 13, 2006, defendant, Patrick Hickey, approached Suzanne Ribando when she had been driving in her car in New Rochelle; Hickey exited his vehicle and approached Ribando, screamed at her and threatened her with violence by stating, “I’ll put my fist through your window”.
The harassment of Suzanne Ribando escalated when the Hickeys started reporting Ribando to the police for allegedly committing various minor crimes.
- On December 13, 2006, defendant, Patrick Hickey falsely, complained to the police that Suzanne Ribando was following him in her car and attempted to run him over. Suzanne Ribando on the contrary was attempting to flee from Hickey who had been menacing her with a raised fist.
- On repeated occasions, including March and April 2007 and thereafter, Patrick Hickey, has called Suzanne Ribando names, including “bitch” and “retard”, and told her to shut up.
- In April 2007, Patrick Hickey, once again engaged Suzanne Ribando by asking her what she said to his children; Hickey was contending that Suzanne Ribando had cursed at his children when she had not.
- On May 9, 2007, Tracey Hickey complained to the police that it was wrong for Suzanne Ribando to warn her children not to kick the ball into her fence. Suzanne Ribando however, was not violating the criminal law but acting properly and lawfully by warning the reckless, menacing children not to damage her property or cause a nuisance of noise by hitting the fence.
- On May 18,2007, the windshield of Ribando’s vehicle was smashed and broken, when it had been parked on her property at the back of the driveway. A large rock was found next to the vehicle. Ribando contends that the Hickeys intentionally and maliciously broke the windshield.
- In late May 2007, a shrub on the property of Suzanne Ribando had been cut down. Ribando contends that the Hickeys intentionally and maliciously cut down the shrub.
- In late June, 2007, a statue on the property of Suzanne Ribando was missing. Ribando contends that the Hickeys intentionally and maliciously took the statue.
- In late June 2007, another plant was pulled completely out of the ground on the property of Suzanne Ribando. Ribando contends that the Hickeys intentionally and maliciously pulled the plant out of the ground.
- On June 1,2007, defendant, Patrick Hickey, called Detective Wilson of the New Rochelle Police Department about Suzanne Ribando. No charges were filed at that time, but the call resulted in the detective speaking with Suzanne Ribando. The basis for Hickey’s call to the police was alleged cursing by Ribando.
- In July 2007, Suzanne Ribando found that her garden hose on her property had been cut and the nozzle of the hose broken. Ribando contends that the Hickeys intentionally and maliciously cut the garden hose.
- On repeated occasions, including July 2007, Tracey Hickey screamed at Suzanne Ribando.
- In July 2007 and all times thereafter, Patrick Hickey, harassed Suzanne Ribando by taunting that he would have her arrested and taunting her to say something provocative.
- On August 14, 2007, Patrick Hickey made another report to the New Rochelle Police Department, complaining that Suzanne Ribando was holding a rock over her head and cursing. As a result of the complaint, the New Rochelle Police Department arrived at her residence and spoke with her. Suzanne Ribando was merely gardening and moving rocks and soil in her back yard on her own property.
- On August 6, 2007, defendant, Patrick Hickey, made yet another false report to the New Rochelle Police Department, this time complaining that Suzanne Ribando was cursing at him and his family when he allegedly heard her voice in the dark.
- On August 22, 2007, Patrick Hickey made another false report to the New Rochelle Police Department, signing an affidavit setting forth various allegations regarding the conduct of Suzanne Ribando and seeking to press charges for harassment. Suzanne Ribando denied committing the alleged crimes and in fact was behaving at all material times lawfully. However, based on the false claims of the the Hickeys, Suzanne Ribando was arrested and incarcerated against her will causing her severe mental anguish and emotional distress.
- On September 11, 2007 defendant, Patrick Hickey harassed Suzanne Ribando by gloating that he “got her”, implying that his manipulation of the police department and wrongful influence upon them prevailed over Ribando’s legitimate complaints to the police that the Hickeys were harassing her.
The complaints to the police by the Hickeys resulted in an Order of Protection, entered on November 9, 2007, by Judge John P. Colangelo protecting the Hickeys and ordering Ribando to avoid the Hickeys. After the Order of Protection was entered, the Hickeys escalated and increased the frequency of their complaints to the police and made numerous false reports, resulting in criminal charges being brought and contempt of court charges being brought.
- On March 11, 2008, the Hickeys falsely complained to the police that Suzanne Ribando was in violation of the court order by cursing at their children on February 24, 2008.
- On April 23, 2008, Tracey Hickey falsely complained to the police that Suzanne Ribando was in violation of the court order by being near her and her two children when, in fact, Ribando was directly across the street from her own home walking her dog briefly in a public park; Ribando did not talk to or approach Tracey Hickey or her children; and she was not harassing Tracey Hickey or her children or acting in contempt.
- On May 24, 2008, Tracey Hickey falsely complained to the police that Suzanne Ribando was in violation of the court order by being near her vehicle and falsely reported that she scratched her vehicle when in fact: Ribando was directly in front of her own home walking her dog; Tracey Hickey did not directly observe Ribando scratching the vehicle; and, it was the Hickeys themselves who interfered with the protective order by parking their vehicle in front of Ribando’s home, when they have their own driveway for parking. As a result of the false claims of the Hickeys, Suzanne Ribando was arrested and incarcerated against her will causing severe mental anguish and emotional distress.
- On repeated occasions, including July 22, 2008, telephone calls were anonymously made to Ribando’s telephone number, for several weeks, approximately four times a week. On July 22,2008 someone anonymously called Ribando’s telephone number and transmitted gun shot sounds, causing Ribando to fear for her life and call the New Rochelle Police Department. No one beside the Hickeys or someone acting on their behalf would have made such calls to Suzanne Ribando.
- On December 9, 2008, Patrick Hickey falsely complained to the police that Suzanne Ribando was in violation of the court order by “violently shaking” a portion of a fence between the two properties causing damages to the fence. Suzanne Ribando denied committing any of the above alleged acts and denied being in contempt of court and in fact was behaving lawfully at all material times. As a result of the false claims of the the Hickeys, Suzanne Ribando was arrested and incarcerated against her will causing her severe mental anguish and emotional distress.
The complaint notes that nothing Ribando actually did was unlawful, that she never entered the Hickey’s property. It says the Hickeys would allow their children to mock and taunt Suzanne Ribando while the Hickeys are present. It describes the allegations made, and statements given, to the police by the Hickeys as “false, mean-spirited, intentional, wrongful, manipulative of the order of protection, interfering with the order of protection, and illegal” and characterizes the Hickeys as “manipulative, calculating, scheming, bullying, bossy, self-centered, self-pitying, hypersensitive, over-reacting, paranoid, phobic, delusional obsessed and/or meddlesome.” Patrick Hickey’s behavior toward Suzanne Ribando is described as “aggressive” and “sadistic and misogynistic” and “intended to intimidate and terrorize her”.
The Civil Complaint states that the conduct of the Hickey family shows a “distinct pattern of harassing, needling, inciting, stalking and annoying behavior, targeted at Suzanne Ribando and carried out with numerous false reports to the police, physical threats displayed with raised fists, parking in front of Ribando’s property, hitting Ribando’s fence, and occupying their back yard when Ribando would be first occupying her back yard.” The complaint concludes by stating that it is the Hickeys who have sought out Suzanne Ribando and placed themselves in contact with her, baiting her and relying on a justice system in New Rochelle that would only accept complaints from the Hickeys against Suzanne Ribando and never the other way around:
The Hickeys seek out Ribando and appear whenever she enters or exits her home, park their vehicle in front of Ribando’s property and otherwise try to annoy Ribando by injecting themselves into her physical locations. the Hickeys will not avoid Ribando but on the contrary attempt to incite contact and catalyze interaction between the parties. The allegations stated by the Hickeys and reports to the police made by the Hickeys caused harm, torment and terror to Ribando. Since the summer of 2006, Defendant’s to date have continued their harassment and intimidation of Suzanne Ribando, unabated and continue to manipulate the police department by crafting complaints to involve their children, and by filing false and/or frivolous complaints designed to harass, terrorize and humiliate Suzanne Ribando.
Suzanne Ribando has filed numerous complaints with the New Rochelle Police Department, yet Defendant’s have never been arrested for their violent, aggressive and harassing acts toward Ribando. Both New Rochelle Police Department and those Assistant District Attorneys assigned to the criminal case against Suzanne Ribando, have stated that they do not “act upon cross-complaints” and have refused to arrest or prosecute the Hickeys, Patrick Hickey and/or Tracey Hickey for their violent, aggressive and harassing acts toward Ribando. Defendant’s, Patrick Hickey and Tracey Hickey are aware of the refusal of the said authorities to arrest or prosecute them for anything they do to Suzanne Ribando and are emboldened to continue to harass, threaten, assault, defame, menace, terrorize and humiliate Suzanne Ribando with impunity and immunity.
Several weeks after being served with the notice of complaint, Patrick Hickey went back to the New Rochelle police station to give a statement to Detective Jeff Wilson but this time, as had been previously suggested by the District Attorney and Wilson, Hickey brought a witness.
Ever since Judge Rice’s unconstitutional order five months earlier, effectively barring her from the use of her own backyard, Suzanne Ribando had strictly observed the restrictions that required her to only exit and enter her home from the front door and to stay out of her backyard or area along the side of the house. On May 28th, Betty Ribando, a frail woman in her eighties, was walking the dog when the leash got caught in a gate in the backyard. She was hurt. Suzanne Ribando, seeing this, ran out into the backyard, helped her mother back to the house then went back out, grabbed the dog and brought the dog back in the house. Despite this singular, extremely brief foray into the backyard, Patrick Hickey managed to obtain a photograph of Suzanne Ribando in the backyard and took it to the police.
Wilson’s report of June 1, 2009 states the following:
I was again contacted by Mr. Hickey who stated that Ms. Ribando continues to violate the order of protection. Most recently on May 28, 2009 and this time a neighbor of his witnessed this. He agreed to come in with her on this date.
I took the attached written statement from Patrick Hickey in which he stated that on Thursday, May 28, 2009 at about 4:30 PM, he had stopped home. When he got home he observed his neighbor Suzanne Ribando was once again her yard. He went inside and was able to take a few pictures with his camera of Suzanne in her back yard and he turned these photos over to the Undersigned Detective. He also added that all winter she was throwing dog feces over the back part of the fence and into his yard.
I then took a written statement from Dana Ziogas who is a neighbor of Mr. Hickey. She stated that on Thursday, May 28, 2009 at about 4:30. PM, she was in her yard (112 Stephenson Blvd) working with her daughter Grace. While there, she heard her neighbor’s dogs barking very loudly as they usually do. Her neighbor is Suzanne Ribando has two small dogs that are always barking. She also heard very loud and obnoxious rap/hip hop music blaring from Suzanne’s house. Also on Thursday she saw Suzanne pacing up and down the side of her back yard for about 20 minutes and she was mumbling and talking to herself. Ms. Ziogas stated that Ms. Ribando was walking on the side of the fence next to our other neighbor’s house, the Hickey’s.
A few days after giving his statement to Wilson, Suzanne Ribando says she pulled out of her driveway and drove down Stephenson Boulevard. Immediately thereafter Patrick Hickey pulled out of his driveway and drove up behind Ribando, tailgating her, riding her bumper, in a menacing manner. Hickey then pulled up next to her and looked at her menacingly, with a maniacal grin. Hickey then cut her off and drove away. Ribando, having long ago given up hope of getting a fair hearing from New Rochelle police, did not bother to call the police and make a complaint.
She did, however, make a complaint about this incident when, under the advice of her criminal attorney, Ribando turned herself into police on June 8th, 2009 to be arrested based on the statements given by Hickey and Ziogas, and the photographs, the week before. Ribando did not deny going in the backyard but claimed it was an emergency situation.
The civil complaint was later amended to include these incidents as well:
- On June 1, 2009, Patrick Hickey falsely complained to the police that Suzanne Ribando was in violation of the court order by being present in her own back yard on May 28, 2009.
- On June 4,2009, Patrick Hickey stalked, harassed, menaced and threatened Suzanne Ribando by operating his motor vehicle in an intentionally reckless fashion following too closely, cutting off and obstructing the path of Suzanne Ribando’s motor vehicle as she was driving on a public roadway. Hickey, violated §1212 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law of the State of New York and is guilty of a misdemeanor. Hickey’s actions Suzanne Ribando to be in fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death, and suffer mental distress.
- On May 28, 2009, Patrick Hickey conspired with a neighbor causing the neighbor to file a false statement with the police on June 1, 2009 which corroborated his June 1, 2009 false statement to the police about Suzanne Ribando. By causing the neighbor to file a false statement with the police, Patrick Hickey suborned perjury. Suzanne Ribando denied committing any of the above alleged acts and denied being in contempt of court and in fact was behaving lawfully at all material times. As a result of the false claims of the the Hickeys, Suzanne Ribando was arrested and incarcerated against her will causing her severe mental anguish and emotional distress.
After Ribando turned herself in to the police and was arrested for being in her own backyard, Detective Jeff Wilson stopped by her jail cell and asked about the civil suit against the Hickeys. Ribando did not respond. She realized that the Hickeys must have said something to someone for Wilson to know about the civil lawsuit. Wilson and other officers raised the issue of the civil lawsuit several more times to Ribando. Wilson’s questions about the Civil Complaint that day would begin what eventually became a long-standing effort by the New Rochelle police and the District Attorney’s office to pressure Ribando into dropping her civil lawsuit against the Hickeys.
The civil lawsuit was filed with the court on July 1st, 2009 at which point, the police and District Attorney kicked their pressure tactics into high gear, repeatedly pressuring Ribando to discontinue her case against the Hickeys. The District Attorney tried very hard to get her to withdraw her lawsuit against the Hickeys, making any plea deal they would offer contingent on her dropping the lawsuit. Criminal prosecutors and police officers do not normally concern themselves with civil litigation related to a criminal matter so to say the offers from the DA’s office were unusual would be an understatement.
With Ribando refusing to budge, the District Attorney’s office began a pattern of trying to get Suzanne to plea to something, anything — a violation or contempt — or risk being convicted and going to jail. Each time, as part of any plea, Ribando would have to discontinue her civil suit. Each time she refused and each time the District Attorney’s office came back with a new offer, always based on her dropping the civil case. Along the way, there were repeated adjournments for her trail date on the car scratching complaint as the DA kept upping the ante, piling on more charges.
Eventually, the District Attorney’s office would come up with 8 separate charges for what began as an unsubstantiated claim by Tracey Hickey that Suzanne Ribando scratched her car, even after Hickey admitted that she did not see Ribando touch her car:
Count 1: Criminal Contempt in the 2nd Degree based on shouting obscenities on Feb 23 or 24 2008.
Count 2: Criminal Contempt in the 2nd Degree based on Suzanne Ribando walking her dog in Stephenson Park on April 23rd, 2008.
Count 3: Criminal Mischief in the 4th Degree based on damage to a fence on December 9, 2008.
Count 4: Criminal Contempt in the 2nd Degree based on violating the Order of Protection based on damage to a fence on December 9, 2008.
Count 5: Criminal Mischief in the 4th Degree based on a car scratch on May 24, 2008.
Count 6: Criminal Contempt in the 2nd Degree based on a car scratch on May 24, 2008.
Count 7: Criminal Contempt in the 2nd Degree based on being in the backyard on May 28, 2009.
Count 8: Harassment in the 2nd Degree based on throwing dog feces between January and April of 2009 and May of 2009.
Even up until jury selection, the DA was offering what to Galluzzi appeared to be an attempt to save face. It was his sense that the DA did not really want to try the case. In response to what he believed to be a “final offer” from the DA, Galluzzi offered to drop the civil lawsuit if the Judge would agree to vacate the order of protection. Both Hickey and the DA refused.
With summer turning into autumn, a trial date was set for November. Ribando was increasingly fearful of the threats from the DA to send her to jail if she did not accept a plea deal that included dropping the civil complaint against the Hickeys but she stuck to her guns.
With the pending criminal case and all the threats from the DA’s office on her mind, Suzanne Ribando decided to go for a walk on the night of October 13th at about 8:30 p.m. As she stepped out her front door, she saw Detective Jeff Wilson on the front steps of the Hickey’s house talking to Patrick Hickey. Both were laughing loudly. It was her sense that the laughter was exaggerated, like they were trying to be seen and heard, to send her a message as the trial approached.
Two weeks later, on October 26th, just days before her trial was to begin, Ribando set out to walk her dog. It was dark out as she went out her front door, onto her front porch. Standing there she noticed a car driving down Stephenson Boulevard with its lights off. She watched as the car slowed and then came to a stop along the side of the road. The car remained parked for a few minutes. Ribando remained still frightened to think of who might be lurking in the car. Inside the car, now parked down the street from her house, pointed in her direction, there were no signs of movement. She leaned forward, straining to make out the silhouetted figure of a person behind the steering wheel. Without warning, the interior light of the car came on. She could now clearly make out the face of the driver. It was a face, by then, she knew all too well.
It was Detective Jeff Wilson.
This is Part V in a series. Read Part VI.
[NOTE: This account has been presented as a narrative based on a long lunch at a diner; while the lunch at the diner did take place, further research and fact-checking was done later. To make the story a better read for my audience, I am using the meeting at the diner as a rhetorical device. Within that framework, this is an accurate account of the story as it was told to me by Ribando and then confirmed through public records and follow-up interviews]