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Woman sues over arrest, claims rights were violated

| Saturday, May 4, 2013, 12:36 a.m.

A former East Vandergrift woman is suing the Vandergrift Police Department, claiming an officer violated her Constitutional rights during a 2010 arrest.

Loretta S. Sinka, now of Dime Road, Parks Township, claims that Sgt. Steven Callipare used excessive force when he arrested her on Oct. 10, 2010, according to the suit that was filed Wednesday in Westmoreland County Court. She claims her Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated as a result.

According to the lawsuit, police responded to a domestic dispute involving Sinka, her husband, Michael, and another man at her former home in East Vandergrift. The suit claims Michael Sinka was pointing a gun at Loretta Sinka and the other man.

The suit claims that Vandergrift police, possibly Sgt. Callipare, detained Loretta Sinka and “dragged” her into a police car. The suit also claims that when Sinka was taken to the Vandergrift Police Department she was “thrown into a cell causing her to hit her head on the cell and fall to the ground.”

According to the suit, Callipare picked Sinka up by her hair and threw her onto the jail's bench. The suit claims that Callipare shackled Sinka's arms to her legs, and then shackled her to the bench.

The suit says Callipare threatened to spray Sinka with a hose “if she didn't comply with his commands.”

According to court records, Loretta Sinka was charged with five crimes stemming from the incident, including aggravated assault, resisting arrest, possession of marijuana and disorderly conduct.

Michael Sinka was charged with aggravated assault, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Loretta Sinka's lawyer, Craig H. Alexander, said his client was convicted of one the charges against her, but couldn't say which one.

Court records show Loretta Sinka pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. The drug charges and the aggravated assault charge were dropped.

She was sentenced to a year of probation.

Alexander said the suit was filed in county court in order to stay within the statute of limitations, but he expects it will be transferred to federal court because of Sinka's claim that her constitutional rights were infringed.

Vandergrift Police Chief Joe Caporali said he couldn't comment on the lawsuit. Callipare did not return a phone call.

Mayor Lou Purificato said he could not comment because he didn't know enough facts about the suit yet. He referred all questions to the borough's lawyer, Larry Loperfito, who could not be reached for comment Thursday and Friday.

Alexander said his client doesn't have a specific dollar amount in mind that would make amends for her claim of pain and suffering.

R.A. Monti is a freelance writer.

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