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Request To Disminss Libel Suit Against Moss Denied 

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According to a recent news report, a judge has denied the request by an attorney representing Sheriff Chris Moss to have a libel suit against him dismissed. 

The libel suit, initiated by Deputy County Executive Michael Krusen, alleges that Moss made false statements against him on social media in regards to accusations that Krusen improperly used a county gas card. An investigation ensued, and the appointed special prosecutor Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker determined there to be no wrong doing on Krusen's part. 

Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey A. Tait did allow some sections of the lawsuit to be removed. First, allegations Krusen made that Moss bullied and intimidated employees at Elmira's First Arena during an investigation. Moss has since released video footage of that interaction, asking the public to determine for themselves if the allegations are true or not. 

Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 7.38.35 AM.png

 

Also, a letter from Moss to Chemung County District Attorney Weeden Wetmore regarding the allegations of improper gas card usage was removed from the complaint, as it was determined to be privileged information. The statements made by Moss on social media were allowed to remain. 

Krusen told local media he is satisfied with the findings and intends to proceed with the lawsuit. Moss says all statements he made are true and he is prepared to go to court. 

 

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Mark    101

So Krusen alleged that Moss bullied the employees at the First Arena Bar and the video evidence clearly shows this is not the case.

That's one lie for you Mr. Krusen.  Let's keep count, shall we?

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KReed    87
Posted (edited)

 

I re-read the SG article multiple times and am at a loss...

Quote

Moss also made statements regarding the case on social media accounts.

Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker was eventually appointed special prosecutor in the matter.

Baker ultimately cleared Krusen of any criminal wrongdoing connected to his continued use of the county-issued fuel card in his personal vehicle.

Since I can't find any published copy of the complaint/lawsuit, I haven't seen any references to specific statements that the plaintiff  is alleging are false.  Just that he "made statements regarding the case".

Is Krusen asserting that simply relaying facts from an investigation, or stating that the investigation did indeed take place constitutes libel? 

Countless people have made countless statements regarding the OJ case on social (and other) media for decades. Simpson was ultimately cleared  of any criminal wrongdoing connected to the death of Nichole and Goldman......does that mean anyone who speaks of the OJ case is committing libel? 

Edited by KReed

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Chris    342

I'd have to go back and pull up rhe Facebook posts to see, I can't remember what they said. 

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Chris    342

I looked as far back as June 2016 and can't find any posts on Facebook about the investigation.

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Adam    3
4 hours ago, Chris said:

I looked as far back as June 2016 and can't find any posts on Facebook about the investigation.

Great minds and all, i went back to 2015 and could not find on my feed nor the sheriff's page

 

 

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Mark    101
Posted (edited)

The facebook post was on May 4, 2017.  Its text is included in the libel suit which can be seen in the Star Gazette's archives for June 20, 2017, updated on June 21, 2017

Quote

21. In addition, defendant placed a post on his Facebook page
which as of May 4, 2017' stated, among other
things, the following:

Mr. Krusen in [sic] correct, this ?is? de?nitely about politics, and greed which often go

hand in hand. Making over $200,000 a year and piifering?'ee gas?'om fax payers, it?s
unacceptable and as an elected of?cial I?m going to call it as I see it. (Emphasis added.)

 

Edited by Mark

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KReed    87

Thanks for digging this up Mark!

I’m not a lawyer, but I’d much rather discuss the complaint itself than what some reporter says that a judge said Krusen said.

In the FB excerpt you cited, Krusen emphasized the words: “pilfering free gas from taxpayers”. Some people might construe the “pilfering” characterization as “false” since he was later cleared of the allegations.

And if Moss made that statement publicly about any number of Joe Citizen defendants whose cases are dismissed, then it very well may meet the standard of libel (even with the qualifier of “I’m going to call it as I see it”).

And then there's New York Times Co. v. Sullivan that sets this plaintiff apart from Joe Citizen….:

 

Quote

 

The Court held that the First Amendment protects the publication of all statements, even false ones, about the conduct of public officials except when statements are made with actual malice (with knowledge that they are false or in reckless disregard of their truth or falsity).


 

So it didn’t matter if Teddy wasn’t indicted for manslaughter – people are still allowed to speculate publicly that he was guilty of manslaughter.

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KReed    87

By the way, if anyone wants to review the entire complaint without jumping through all the cross-referencing of SG articles that Mark did:

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3870733-Libel-Suit.html#pa.ges/p1

The SheriffMoss4ny page that is cited seems to be closed down, but if the portion quoted in the complaint is the most damning piece they could find, it doesn't seem to support a defamation claim. 

 

 

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Chris    342

It's interesting to me that in a document accusing someone of libel, statements such as on Page 4, Sections 8 and 9 are added.

 

  • Haha 1

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Spiff    21

Did I read correctly that the card was used on a weekend and out of town?  Also if they had some sort of trade mileage for gas deal it should have been documented.

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KReed    87
8 minutes ago, Spiff said:

Did I read correctly that the card was used on a weekend and out of town?  Also if they had some sort of trade mileage for gas deal it should have been documented.

Several weekend and multiple out of town purchases. 

There doesn't seem to be any denial that the Deputy Executive used gas for personal travel. Near as I can ascertain.....he was absolved because the Executive said personal use is an "approved" expense. 

It would be nice if someone addressed why the hell there is such a policy that county resources can legally be directed for personal use. And begs the question: what other personal expenses, not reported as taxable benefits, are permitted that the public is unaware of? 

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Adam    3

reading what is available....in part 12 "had plaintiff sought reimbursement from the county for his mileage on behalf of STEG..." STEG is a non-profit, the County should NOT be paying for its expenses

 part 14: Santuli, in absence of policy stating otherwise, had no business telling his deputy or any other employee using gas cards for non-county issues was ok

The weekend fuel ups: were they for County, STEG or personal business?Sorry,  I cannot think that mr. krusen would think it ok to use public funds for personal use, if it was STEG, then again Santuli is in the wrong, and if COUNTY business....nothing to see there.

Net 2016 usage $1545.36 but later it is stated to be $1768.36 reflecting both business/personal travel...difference of 222.05 owed then but in Moss' complaint an amount of $2487.39 is given...where did that come from?

On the other Hand, i do not for one moment believe the sheriff opened this issue of some purely altruistic motivation. the moment he received the "anonymous"tip, especially with aspirations for the office, he should have referred to it the proper investigatory body and NOT have posted anything on social media until after it was settled.

In regards to the visit to the arena, especially if it was in relation to the liquor license, that should have been left to the licensing authority to pursue and interview, the only reason for the sheriff to attend, especially with body cam, would be for press. Again, does not seem to be any real need for his office, or at the very least, him, to be involved in either of these cases and should have recused from anything to do with it, especially in light of political aspirations

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KReed    87
43 minutes ago, Adam said:

Net 2016 usage $1545.36 but later it is stated to be $1768.36 reflecting both business/personal travel...difference of 222.05 owed then but in Moss' complaint an amount of $2487.39 is given...where did that come from?

I haven’t seen Moss’s $2487.39 figure that you mention….not sure if it supposedly covers the same time frame.

 

However, the $1545.36 is noted as the plaintiff’s 2016 usage and the $1768.36 appears to be the defendant’s usage in 2016 (to draw a comparison between “similarly placed appointed or elected officials in the County who have the use of fuel card” (the part-time Deputy Executive and the Sheriff) .And states that the defendant’s usage reflects both business/personal travel).

Again, if there is any policy that permits the County Executive to waive mileage documentation and/or authorize any county official to use resources for anything other than county business. The notion is outrageous and should have been 86’ed as soon as it was brought to light...unless the officials who could put a stop to the practice are also availing themselves of this benefit.

 

I agree that there doesn’t seem to be any obvious necessity for a county sheriff to accompany the Liquor Authority representative on the visit to the Arena (with bodycam). However, the bodycam footage that was published does serve to disprove the characterization of “abusive” behavior.

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Adam    3
6 hours ago, KReed said:

I haven’t seen Moss’s $2487.39 figure that you mention….not sure if it supposedly covers the same time frame.

 

However, the $1545.36 is noted as the plaintiff’s 2016 usage and the $1768.36 appears to be the defendant’s usage in 2016 (to draw a comparison between “similarly placed appointed or elected officials in the County who have the use of fuel card” (the part-time Deputy Executive and the Sheriff) .And states that the defendant’s usage reflects both business/personal travel).

that makes more sense then, and also does not look good for defendant especially since his is listed as personal/business...either way, anything outside of County Biz should not be being charged no matter who does it, esp. if it is not policy, and if it is, better get changed tout suite! the higher amount is listed in the letter from moss to wetmore

 

 

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KReed    87
11 hours ago, Adam said:

the higher amount is listed in the letter from moss to wetmore

Duh….I only read the excerpt of that letter in section 17 and didn’t even scroll to see that three was an Exhibit A.    

That looks like it’s worded as dollars “since” January 1, 2016….for invoices reviewed on in April 2017. So he may have included three months more than the plaintiff cites as “during 2016”.

 

11 hours ago, Adam said:

that makes more sense then, and also does not look good for defendant especially since his is listed as personal/business...

See...this is where I would prefer to see documentation rather than just statements.  It's actually only "listed" as an allegation by the plaintiff. 

There’s not anything provided to show how the plaintiff concluded how much, if any, of the defendant’s usage was personal. Unlike the plaintiff, he has use of county vehicles during the course of business.

I also don’t see anything that supports the claim that the plaintiff and defendant’s official business are “similarly placed appointed or elected officials in the County who have the use of fuel card”….when one is part time.

In fact, he states himself that his “net fuel usage during 2016 is consistent with his use during prior years”. That right there raises a red flag for me since he is now part-time and dedicating half his day to another job….I would expect a significant drop from previous years.

 

 

Make no mistake....I don't doubt that political competition is a significant motive for the defendant raising questions about these dubious practices (now). But I don't think he's incorrect that our "officials" spend a lot of time hiding their activity and using their positions for their own gain.

I’d like to have access to clear budget breakdowns every year for every agency and entity. I think we all deserve to know how the county is spending our money without having to submit a FOIA request to beg for each individual morsel of information. And the local TV and news outlets do not have investigative reporters who will dig into these matter.

 

 

It seems pretty certain that, at some point before now, the Sheriff must have been aware of all the in-bred, favoritism, and inside network taking care of their friends within the county. I'm not really impressed that he could have challenged the shadiness a long time ago, and chose not to (until now). But I'm glad his actions are finally shedding light on them (now). 

 

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