A federal lawsuit filed against a long list of government officials, including the Suffolk County district attorney and the chiefs of both the Riverhead and Southold police departments, was dismissed last week, according to a ruling filed in Eastern District court.
The decision, which came after attorney Brud Rossmann failed to meet the deadline to serve the eight people named as defendants in a suit he filed last December on behalf of himself, brings to a close the latest in an unusual string of court cases filed by Mr. Rossmann, 48, an ex-convict and former federal prosecutor with ties to the North Fork.
In a meandering 40-page complaint that included references to his Harvard education, his ethics record as an attorney and his success as a corporate investor, Mr. Rossmann claimed to have been the victim of a series of assaults and batteries by local police and the FBI.
He also alleged that he has been the target of harassment by various police agencies throughout New York State since March 2008.
Mr. Rossmann, who listed his mother’s Cutchogue home as his address in the complaint, alleged that East End town police began targeting him Aug. 5, 2011, when Riverhead police responded to a complaint from a landlord who was attempting to evict him from her Riverhead home. He said the targeting continued Aug. 17, when Southold police approached him twice in the same day in response to separate incidents in Mattituck.
Mr. Rossmann filed his lawsuit Dec. 13, five days after he claimed in the suit to have been assaulted for the second time in three weeks by a Riverhead woman. Mr. Rossmann claimed that police took no action after he reported being assaulted on Nov. 19 and Dec. 8.
But according to an active warrant for Mr. Rossmann’s arrest in Riverhead, he was charged Nov. 19 with third-degree assault and battery for attacking Claudette Grivaz, the same Riverhead woman he claims assaulted him that day.
A reporter’s repeated calls this week to a cellphone number listed in the federal lawsuit as Mr. Rossmann’s reached an automated message stating “the person you are trying to reach is not accepting calls at this time.” A man who answered a phone call using the number listed on Mr. Rossmann’s registration with the New York State Bar Association said it was a wrong number.
Riverhead police chief David Hegermiller, who was named as a defendant in the federal lawsuit, said Mr. Rossmann has been involved in four reported incidents in the past year and is not listed as the complainant in any of the incidents.
Similarly, Southold police records show no reports listing Mr. Rossmann as a complainant. Freedom of Information requests did, however, turn up three Southold police reports involving Mr. Rossmann last year.
In the first incident, an employee at Waldbaum’s in Mattituck reported July 14 that Mr. Rossmann purchased $80 worth of salmon with a public benefit card and later attempted to exchange some of the fish for alcohol.
Southold police records also show reports filed for the two Aug. 17 incidents referenced in Mr. Rossmann’s complaint. In one incident, an employee at CVS in Mattituck reported Mr. Rossmann repeatedly entering and exiting the store and hanging out in the bushes behind the building. Later that day, an employee at Mattituck-Laurel Library reported observing Mr. Rossmann using a library computer with a “cup of beer” at his side.
Riverhead-based attorney Tom Sledjeski, who serves as outside legal counsel for Southold Town, said Mr. Rossmann wasn’t arrested in any of the incidents, though he claims in the suit that Southold police unlawfully detained and arrested him.
Mr. Sledjeski said Mr. Rossmann had filed a notice of claim against the town for similar accusations.
“All he has ever sent us was a notice of claim,” Mr. Sledjeski said. “We served him with a notice of hearing. He got it. He never showed up — twice.”
Mr. Sledjeski said he wasn’t aware of the federal lawsuit Mr. Rossmann filed against Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley because no one from the town was ever served.
“It’s very bizarre he went to the trouble of filing it, but never served anyone,” Mr. Sledjeski said.
Before Mr. Rossmann’s lawsuit was dismissed last week, Chief Hegermiller said he was confident the case would be rejected in the courts.
“It will run its course,” he said in an interview last month. “The judge will determine its merit and it’ll be flushed down the toilet.”
Court records show Mr. Rossmann, who has been registered with the New York State Bar Association since 1990, has filed at least six federal lawsuits in the past 3 1/2 years, all of which have been dismissed.
He made headlines on legal blogs in March 2011 after a Washington, D.C., judge took a dig at his complaint in her written dismissal of a case he had filed against Chase Home Finance.
“Despite the fact that plaintiff is a 1989 graduate of Harvard Law School, his Amended Complaint is complex, garbled, and accompanied by hundreds of ‘exhibits,’ which appear to have been assembled in no particular order,” wrote U.S. District Court judge Ellen Segal Huvelle.
Mr. Rossmann later attempted to sue Judge Huvelle in federal court in Ohio, but that case was dismissed over a question of jurisdiction.
Other dismissed lawsuits filed by Mr. Rossmann include a suit brought against the landlord who evicted him in Riverhead last August; a Washington, D.C., suit against several federal law enforcement officials, in which Mr. Rossmann claims he was forced to smoke government-issued crystal methamphetamine while serving as a federal prosecutor; and a lawsuit against an attorney involved in the 2003 sale of Mr. Rossmann’s foreclosed home in Vienna, Va.
In the Virginia suit, Mr. Rossmann makes reference to time he spent incarcerated in the state. Virginia Department of Corrections records show Mr. Rossmann served just over 10 months of a two-year sentence on conviction of a felony burning charge.
According to Virginia penal code, burning is when someone maliciously sets fire to any wood, fence, grass, straw or other thing capable of spreading fire on land.
When asked how Mr. Rossmann can still practice law despite his felony conviction, a New York State Bar Association spokesperson referred to a section of the bar handbook which states that the out-of-state charge for which the attorney was convicted has to also be a felony in New York. An arson in which no structures are burned is a misdemeanor in New York.