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Southampton man drops civil rights suit against Suffolk DA Spota

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota on Sept.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota on Sept. 20, 2013. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

A Southampton man whose 2011 drug conviction was overturned amid a probe of the Southampton Town Police Department has dropped his lawsuit against Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.

Kwame Opoku's attorney wrote a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bianco on Thursday saying he didn't want to pursue the case.

John Nonnenmacher, Opoku's Manhattan-based attorney, did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Opoku was one of seven people whose convictions were overturned at Spota's request in 2012 and 2013 after revelations that Southampton Town Police Officer Eric Sickles, a member of the department's disbanded Street Crime Unit, was addicted to prescription drugs in 2010 and 2011.

In May, Opoku filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Spota, claiming prosecutors illegally withheld information about the officer's addiction. The suit sought unspecified damages and attorney's fees.

Assistant Suffolk County District Attorney Megan O'Donnell argued in court papers that Spota, as a prosecutor, is immune from liability in most cases and pointed out the lawsuit never said when prosecutors learned of Sickles' addiction. Spota said his office reviewed more than 100 arrests involving Sickles after the problems came to light.

"The claim was without merit and we are pleased that the matter has been discontinued without the need for prolonged litigation, saving the county taxpayers unnecessary expense," said Justin Meyers, a Suffolk County spokesman.

The county was also a defendant in the suit.

Opoku, who served seven months in prison on charges related to the case, filed a separate lawsuit against Southampton Town in February 2013.

Nonnenmacher subpoenaed 11 people in March, including Spota, current and former Southampton Town officials and police officers and Sickles' wife, Erica Sickles.

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