A Quogue, New York, woman who spent four days in jail after a sheriff’s deputy arrested her and accused her of being a conservative “Teabagger” has won a $1.2 million verdict in a federal lawsuit, handed down after an eight-day trial ended last week.
Nancy Genovese, a mother of three, was arrested in 2009 for trespassing in connection with an incident at the Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard (ANG) base in Westhampton Beach, New York, where she allegedly had been taking pictures of a helicopter. She had intended to use the image on a website devoting to supporting the U.S. armed forces, according to the New York Post.
Instead, personnel at the airfield called law enforcement to report her — even though, her attorneys maintained, she was simply parked at the side of a public road and had not trespassed on the property.
“Southampton cops searched her and found a legally owned rifle that she was transporting from a nearby rifle range,” the Post reported last week.
“She contends a deputy sheriff arrived on the scene later and said to her, ‘I bet you are one of those Tea Party people.’ When Genovese said she’s gone to Tea Party rallies, he allegedly said, ‘You’re a real right-winger, aren’t you?’ and ‘You are a “Teabagger”’ and then added that she’d be arrested for terrorism to make an example of other ‘right wingers.'”
Genovese, now 58, was arrested, but she was released after four days and the trespassing charge was dropped. The sheriff’s office made much of the fact that Genovese had guns in her car, but they were found to be legally owned — even by New York’s standards.
She filed a $70 million federal lawsuit alleging wrongful prosecution in 2010; a jury returned the $1.12 million verdict last week. That amount does not encompass punitive damages, which, according to The Southampton Press, could still be handed down later.