Saying she was treated like a terrorist when she was arrested after taking photographs outside the Air National Guard base in Westhampton Beach, an East Quogue woman Thursday filed a $5-million federal lawsuit against Suffolk County, the Town of Southampton and more than a dozen law enforcement officers.
Nancy Genovese, 54, had been charged with misdemeanor trespassing one year ago Friday for allegedly taking pictures on the base. The charge was later dropped.
Genovese said she was held outside the air base for six hours while police searched her car. She said she spent four days in the Suffolk County jail in Riverside and was forced for most of her incarceration to wear a heavy "suicide gown" that exacerbated a pre-existing medical problem..
, Genovese said police and sheriff's deputies threatened to charge her with terrorism and called her a "tea bagger" after she acknowledged having attended tea party gatherings. She said she was taking the pictures for a website she was constructing in support of American troops.
She said that at the time of her arrest, she suffered from rheumatoid arthritis.
Shortly after her arrest, Genovese said, she was taken by sheriff's deputies to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, where she was handcuffed to a bed. The handcuffs and the gown she said she was forced to wear while on suicide watch at the jail caused intense pain and discomfort due to her rheumatoid arthritis, she said
"My arms and legs were so swollen, I couldn't even walk," she said.
She said in the lawsuit she was prescribed medication and sent back to jail.Genovese said she was held on suicide watch at the jail until Aug. 3, when a psychiatrist determined she did not pose a danger to herself. She was released later that day on $50,000 bond.
Although she was cleared of charges in November, Genovese said, authorities did not return her guns, which had been confiscated, until March. Her camera was returned to her, but it was damaged and does not work, she said.
Genovese said she abandoned the support-the-troops website and started another site, patriotlegaldefense.com.
Her arrest left her fearful of police and skeptical of charges brought against terror suspects, she said.
"When people are arrested for terrorism and I see the scant evidence, usually, I kind of doubt that they were actually terrorists," Genovese said.