A State Supreme Court justice has ruled against former Southampton councilman and town Conservative Party leader James Malone in a lawsuit by a contractor who said Malone locked him in the Suffolk County clerk's office in 2011.
Justice Mark Partnow, who sits in Brooklyn, on April 21 found Malone liable for claims including false imprisonment and assault in a lawsuit brought by Anthony Prosano, who filed a lien against Malone's Hampton Bays home for money Prosano said Malone owed him for work on the house.
Malone, a law clerk for District Court Judge William Condon, seeks to run for a District Court judgeship. Malone, now an Islip resident, has requested an interview with the Suffolk County Bar Association, which reviews qualifications of potential judicial candidates, according to association executive director Sarah Jane LaCova.
The lawsuit stemmed from an incident on Dec. 15, 2011, when Prosano appeared at the Suffolk County clerk's office in Riverhead to file a lien for almost $8,000 in work he said Malone had not paid him for.
Malone, then deputy county clerk, invited Prosano into his office, locked the door and stood in front of it, the complaint said. Prosano recorded the conversation on his phone and introduced it as evidence.
"You are [expletive] playing in a pool you don't belong in," Malone told Prosano, according to the suit.
Malone accused Prosano of breaking a window at the Hampton Bays house to retrieve his tools, and told Prosano he was holding him for breaking and entering. "You're arrested," Malone said, according to the transcript included in the lawsuit.
Prosano responded, "You can't hold me in here."
"I'm the deputy county clerk. I can hold you here," said Malone, who ultimately let Prosano go. Prosano's attorney, Marc Held of Held & Hines law firm, based in Manhattan and Brooklyn, said Malone had no authority to hold Prosano. Held said Prosano was "pleased that Mr. Malone, who used his public office and reputation to take advantage of and falsely imprison Mr. Prosano, was found liable by the court. Mr. Prosano looks forward to receiving the money that he was owed."
Malone's attorney, William Duffy of Patchogue, said he had not read Partnow's order and could not comment. Malone did not respond to requests for comment.
The false imprisonment claim seeks damages of more than $1 million, while the assault claim seeks unspecified damages.
Partnow also ruled in favor of Prosano's claim regarding the unpaid lien for $7,971.52, and breach of the original contract to remodel the house for $52,890.
Malone had filed a motion to dismiss the suit and counter with more than $11 million in damages against Prosano for defamation and slander, among other allegations. Partnow's order dismissed the claims.
Malone served as a senior deputy county clerk under County Clerk Judith Pascale until January 2014.
He served on the Southampton Town Board from 2010 to 2014. Pascale did not return a call for comment.