Owner of closed care home in Liberty sues borough, police officers

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Police in Liberty Borough unfairly targeted the Liberty Manor Care Home for enforcement actions, and though criminal charges didn't stick, the facility was forced to close, according to a lawsuit filed today.

William Garvin, former owner of the home, sued the borough, two of its police officers and two state Department of Public Welfare officials.

Mr. Garvin alleged that Officer Raymond Johnson told him "that there were too many African-American residents at Liberty Manor," and that they were "scaring white people who lived near the facility," according to the complaint by attorney Joel Sansone.

After a handful of complaints about how the facility handled medication, the officers got a search warrant "without probable cause," according to the complaint, and then filed a criminal complaint against Mr. Garvin. But charges were withdrawn because "none of the items seized from Plaintiff’s office were controlled substances," according to the complaint.

Officer Johnson referred questions to his chief, who was not immediately available for comment.

Before charges were withdrawn, the state reacted to Mr. Garvin's arrest by forcing the home's closure, according to the complaint.

Mr. Garvin alleges malicious prosecution, unlawful arrest, unlawful search and seizure and violation of due process rights. He demands compensation for business losses and emotional damage.

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

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