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De Falco v. Bernas

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
244 F.3d 286 (2d Cir. 2001)


De Falco (plaintiff) bought property in the town of Delaware and sought to get his development approved by the town. Over the course of the approval process, Dirie, the Delaware Town Supervisor, and Bernas, a construction company (defendants), used their positions and relationships with the town to engage in a series of acts designed to exert influence over De Falco’s business. This included refusal to approve De Falco’s development and extortion demands which caused De Falco to break an $8,800 contract with an out-of-state logger. Bernas also removed gravel from De Falco’s property without permission and demanded rights to De Falco’s entire gravel pit. Finally, Bernas also demanded that De Falco hand over shares to his business. De Falco handed over a third of his interest in his business, but refused to turn over the entire gravel pit. As a result, Bernas convinced the town tax assessor to more than double the assessment on De Falco’s lot, thus doubling his taxes. Finally, when De Falco asked Dirie how he could get his lot approved, Dirie stated that De Falco could give Bernas his gravel pit. De Falco brought suit against the defendants for violation of the RICO Act. The jury returned a verdict against both Dirie and Bernas. The district court vacated the jury award against Bernas, but upheld an award against Dirie. Both De Falco and Dirie appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Underhill, J.)

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