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Judge OKs part of lawsuit against DA Rice

A file photo of Nassau County District Attorney

A file photo of Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. (Jan. 29, 2012) Photo Credit: Steven Sunshine

A federal judge pared down a sprawling lawsuit that claims Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice prosecuted an investor and his attorney at the behest of campaign contributors, but will allow allegations of false arrest and illegal search and seizure to go forward.

U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie in Brooklyn last week dismissed numerous other claims including false arrest and imprisonment charges against the Nassau County jail and sheriff's office, and allegations of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Brodie ruled that Smithtown attorney Robert Del Col and his client, Ted Doukas, of Florida, could proceed with civil claims that Nassau prosecutors had falsely arrested the pair on charges of trying to extort DataTreasury, a Texas company founded in Melville. Brodie ruled there was enough of a factual basis for the false arrest and illegal search allegations to be considered at trial.

The ruling means that Del Col will be able to question Rice in a deposition about how she got campaign contributions from executives of the Texas-based technology company, and why she set up a sting operation and charged Del Col and Doukas with extortion when those officials complained to her.

Nassau prosecutors said the pair had tried to extort DataTreasury officials in 2009 in exchange for Doukas keeping quiet about what he said was his role in creating the lucrative technology the company licenses to banks.

Nassau County Judge Meryl Berkowitz dismissed the extortion charges in 2010, and state appellate courts refused to allow Rice's office to reinstate them.

Del Col has said the extortion arrests were motivated solely by campaign contributions made by DataTreasury officials to Rice after he began representing Doukas. Instead of extorting the company, Del Col said, he was trying to negotiate a settlement with it.

Daniel Bartoldus, an attorney for Rice and her office, said she had the authority to prosecute and the indictment was dismissed only for the procedural reason that the district attorney improperly allowed a private attorney to present the case to the grand jury.

Richard Levine, an attorney for DataTreasury, said the company had nothing to do with the decision to arrest Doukas and Del Col. "There's no conspiracy," he said. "They reported a possible crime."

He said company officials made legal campaign contributions -- which Rice later returned -- and "had no reason to think they'd need a prosecutor at the time of their contributions."

Lawrence Zweifach -- an attorney for DataTreasury lawyer Richard Friedman, who also was sued by Del Col and Doukas -- said Del Col's suit was merely "an act to seek revenge."

Del Col conceded that point. "I do have a vendetta," he told Brodie. "That doesn't mean I'm wrong."

Brodie said she would rule this week whether other allegations in the suit, including claims that a conspiracy existed between Rice and company officials, can go forward.

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