Beaver County man sues Lawrence County for false imprisonment

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A Beaver County man who was hauled into court and jailed in Lawrence County for 40 days for a probation violation sued today claiming that he was not, in fact, on probation at that time.

Jacob G. Knotts, of Darlington, wrote that he was arrested in Rochester on Feb. 6, held in the Beaver County Jail for four days and then sent to the Lawrence County Correctional Center. He stayed there until March 16.

The cause, the complaint said, was a warrant issued by Lawrence County's Adult Probation Department saying that he had not reported in as required. The warrant was void, it said, because he "was not on probation and was not in violation of any directive" of the department. On "many occasions" he told probation office employees, judges and prosecutors that he "was no longer on probation at the time of his arrest," but he was only released after he hired an attorney, it said.

His "name, credit and reputation" were damaged by the incarceration, according to the complaint in U.S. District Court by attorneys James Mall and Tony Thompson. The false arrest and malicious prosecution violated his due process rights, it said, and he demands money.

Online state court records show that a Darlington man with the same name has since 1999 pleaded guilty to fleeing or eluding, receiving stolen property, resisting arrest, false report, driving with a suspended license, drug possession, false reports to law enforcement, falsification of documents, drunk driving, recklessly endangering another person, criminal conspiracy to defraud an insurer, corruption of minors and tampering with public records. It was not immediately clear whether they are the same man.

Neither the plaintiff's attorneys nor Lawrence County's solicitor could be immediately reached for comment.

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


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