Couple claim false arrest in lawsuit against Beaver Falls

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One Beaver Falls resident's accusations of drug dealing against another led to a fistfight and the accuser's false arrest and prosecution, according to a lawsuit filed late Monday in U.S. District Court.

Victoria Cleckley, 42, suspected that her neighbor was dealing drugs, according to the complaint authored by attorney Gianni Floro. She approached Beaver Falls Police Chief Charles R. Jones Jr. at a community meeting, it said, and he recommended that she start recording the license plate numbers of cars that stopped on the street.

She did so. But not long after, one neighbor told her husband, Saun Cleckley, that his wife had better stop writing down license plate numbers, the complaint said. A fight ensued, and both Mr. Cleckley, 45, and the neighbor were injured.

The neighbors told police that the Cleckleys started the fight, and accused them of using a gun, a pipe and a high-heeled shoe in the melee -- charges the couple denied.

Beaver Falls Officer Robert E. Applegarth arrested the Cleckleys, and they were charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, harassment and disorderly conduct. They were found not guilty at trial in January.

The Cleckleys, who recently moved to Ohio, accused the city and Officer Applegarth of malicious prosecution, false arrest, abuse of process and false imprisonment. They want compensation, including punitive damages. Two of the neighbors are also named as defendants.

Beaver Falls Solicitor George Patterson II declined comment. Officer Applegarth could not be immediately reached.

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord


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