Posted: October 19, 2010
Fed agent’s suit claims state police retaliation
Action by Secret Service Agent William Slavoski grows out of a dispute involving Kingston police.
SCRANTON – A local U.S. Secret Service agent who claims he was falsely accused of improperly accessing a national crime database has filed a federal lawsuit against the commander of the Pennsylvania State Police and several other troopers.
William Slavoski, special agent in charge of the Secret Service’s Scranton office, claims state police launched several unwarranted investigations of him to retaliate against him for filing complaints against Willard Oliphant, a former captain with the state police’s Bureau of Integrity and Professional Standards.
The suit, filed Friday, alleges Oliphant, who is now retired, ordered an investigation into Slavoski after Slavoski accessed the National Crime Information Center in July 2007 to run the vehicle tag of a person who had been following Daniel Griffin, who was a detective with the Kingston Police Department at the time.
Slavoski maintains he ran the tag, which came back to a vehicle registered to Oliphant and his son, Will, because Griffin had expressed concern for his safety because someone was “stalking” him.
The suit contends Will Oliphant was working as a private investigator and was tailing Griffin, who was involved in a contentious dispute with Kingston over workers’ compensation benefits. Griffin had asked Kingston police to investigate, but they refused based on “hostility” they had toward him, the suit says.
The suit names as defendants Oliphant and state police Commander Frank Pawlowski, as well as state police employees Francis Hacken, Bryon Devlin, Pedro Rivera, Huascar Rivera, John Rice and Mervin Rodriguez.
Jack Lewis, spokesman for state police in Harrisburg, said the department does not comment on pending litigation.
According to the suit:
In September 2008, Slavoski was notified by Rodriguez that his use of the NCIC system was being placed on one-year probation based on allegations he improperly accessed the system and relayed information to Griffin.
Slavoski contends his use of the system was entirely legal and that the action was taken to intimidate and retaliate against him because he had “exposed one of their own.”
Over the next year, Slavoski filed several complaints against Oliphant with the state police, but no investigation was undertaken. Instead, Slavoski claims, Hacken “aggressively encouraged” state police employees to gather information on Slavoski so they could persist in efforts to harass and intimidate him.
Hacken’s directive led state police to open an investigation into Slavoski sometime in October or November 2009. That investigation was baseless and designed solely to discredit him and harm him in his employment, the suit alleges.
The suit, filed by attorney Don Bailey of Harrisburg, seeks unspecified damages for violations of Slavoski’s due-process rights and his right to free speech, as well as punitive damages.