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Sabeel C. El-Bey v. Village of South Holland

May 11, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber


Before the Court are Defendants' Motions to Dismiss. For the following reason, the motions are granted in their entirety and the Complaint is dismissed with prejudice.


Plaintiff Sabeel El-Bey ("El-Bey") sued the Village of South Holland and various other parties after police from that village and others arrested and forcibly removed him from a residence at 84 S. Woodlawn Drive in South Holland on August 31, 2010. The suit also alleges liability for the earlier towing from the home of a 2006 Volkswagen Passat on August 22, 2010.

El-Bey claims the residence was his home and that he has a deed to prove it. Defendants say El-Bey's "deed" is a phony piece of paperwork conveying title from the "Moorish Science Temple," which was never in the actual chain of title. This, Defendants say, is part of a trend of dozens of phony deeds, all invoking the name of the temple. See Anjelica Tan and Susan Chandler, Think You Own Your House? Check the Deed, New York Times, August 27, 2011, available at html?_r=1&pagewanted-all.

At the time of El-Bey's arrest, the property was owned by one Adolph Clark ("Clark"). Although foreclosure proceedings were pending against Clark, no foreclosure order had been entered and he was still the legal owner, Defendants say.

According to police reports El-Bey attached to his Complaint, on August 22, 2010, a co-occupant of the home, Felicia Muhammed ("Muhammed"), and one Julian Nettles ("Nettles") were arrested for criminal trespass to the home, at which time the Volkswagen was apparently seized and removed from the home's garage.

The car was towed by Cars Collision Center, LLC ("Cars"), whose manager is Defendant Tony Kulcyzk ("Kulcyzk"). Cars apparently has a contract to tow cars for South Holland. El-Bey first claims that Kulcyzk towed the car (Second Am. Compl. 9) and then claims an unknown driver of tow truck #63 towed it. Id. at 10. Sometime after the car's seizure, but before his arrest, ElBey alleges he tried to retrieve the car by talking to South Holland Sergeant R. Goode, Sergeant Gregory Baker, and Lieutenant Dave Pedric, none of whom returned his car.

El-Bey claims that when he finally did get the car back at an unspecified date, he had to pay $1,455 to retrieve it, and several items were missing, including a camera, valuable coins and a cell phone.

On August 31, 2010, El-Bey had a court date in Cook County Circuit for a lawsuit he filed against South Holland, apparently seeking a Temporary Restraining Order ("TRO") directing the return of his car. Pl.'s Compl., Exs. A & A2; ECF 91, PageID 447, 453. South Holland Attorney and current Defendant Charles Lapp ("Lapp") successfully represented the village at that hearing, and the TRO was denied. El-Bey accuses Lapp of mail fraud, apparently for mailing documents related to that hearing.

Unsuccessful, he proceeded to the South Holland Police station demanding to speak with the Police Chief but was told he was unavailable. It is not clear if El-Bey spoke with other police administrators at that time or at an earlier time, but in any event, was told in no uncertain terms by South Holland police that Cook County Recorder of Deed records indicated he was not the lawful owner of the property. ECF 91, PageID 447.

El-Bey left the police station wearing tan clothing and a black baseball cap. A short time later, police, received a complaint from neighbors of the residence that a man fitting ElBey's description and another person had entered the home. Police called El-Bey on his cell phone. According to the police report, El-Bey cursed them and hung up. Police also called Clark, the rightful owner of the home, to assure themselves that he had not given anyone permission to enter. According to police, Clark responded that he had not, and he gave police permission to enter and secure the premises. South Holland police called Riverdale and Dolton police for backup and then forced open the door and arrested El-Bey and Muhammed (this being Muhammed's second arrest at the premises).

Although El-Bey alleges generally there was no probable cause to arrest him, he attached the police reports to his Complaint and never specifically takes issue with the details in them, including that he was told the home was not his. In fact, his Complaint correlates with many details in the reports, including the fact that his arrest took place after a morning court appearance, that he had multiple meetings with South Holland police in the days before his arrest, and the fact that the South Holland police chief did not meet with him.

El-Bey alleges the following conduct during and after the arrest. During the arrest, the following police officers pointed guns at him: South Holland police chief Warren Millsaps ("Millsaps"), South Holland supervising police officer Robert Stegenga ("Stegenga"), South Holland supervising police officer Gregory Baker ("Baker"), South Holland supervising police officer P. Williams, South Holland police officer M. Roberts, an unknown Riverdale police officer and an unknown Dolton police officer.

The same unknown Dolton police officer then handcuffed him. Unspecified persons then lifted him by the handcuffs, causing pain in his wrists. Police then searched the house. Baker asked him for the keys to the house and a car (a different car from the subject of this suit) on the premises. South Holland police officer Borowski ("Borowski") seized unspecified personal property and removed it from the residence without a warrant or court order. El-Bey was left in a police car on an 85-degree day for more than 10 minutes "without proper air ventilation."

At the South Holland police station, when El-Bey asked to see a doctor for his wrists, an unknown South Holland officer told him he was lucky -- that if the officer had been at the arrest site, he would have put a bullet in El-Bey's head.

El-Bey was then questioned by the FBI, allegedly called by police because El-Bey had terrorism and homeland security textbooks in the closet of the residence. The FBI apparently found El-Bey harmless, and he was then taken to St. James Hospital where he received an X-ray, was given medication "for swelling and pain," and returned to jail.

El-Bey was charged with criminal trespass, but the charges were eventually dropped. After the trespassing arrest, police boarded up the home to prevent El-Bey from returning. He alleges this also kept him from retrieving his personal items in the home.

El-Bey met with South Holland Mayor Don DeGraff on September 14, 2010 about being locked out of his "home," and to inquire why local police were "acting as Cook County Sheriffs" (apparently a reference to his removal from the home). The residence is part of the Preserves of South Holland Home Owner's Association (the "Preserves"), which is also a named Defendant. Also named as a Defendant is an Allegra Smith ("Smith"), who appears to be affiliated with Preserves, although El-Bey's Complaint does not say how. Smith, El-Bey charges, met with Mayor DeGraff "to discuss how they were going to continue to deprive Plaintiff from accessing his clothes, shoes and his other personal property." Second Am. Compl. 10. Smith, at an unspecified time, demanded association fees from El-Bey and threatened to call police every time she saw El-Bey's car until he paid the fees.

El-Bey alleges the following counts.

Claimed Cause of Count Action Defendant I-III 42 U.S.C. 1983 § Villages of South Monell claim Holland, Dolton & Riverdale

IV Appears to be Millsaps, Stengenga, excessive force and Baker, Goode, Pedric, unreasonable search Williams, Roberts, and seizure claims Burke, Borowski, unknown under §§ 1983, 1985 Riverdale officer & unknown Dolton officer

V False arrest and Village of S. Holland, imprisonment Millsaps, Stegenga, Baker, Good, Williams, Burke, Roberts, Borowski & Pedric Claimed Cause of Count Action Defendant VI False arrest, Village of Dolton possibly unreasonable search and seizure VII "Indemnification" Village of S. Holland (alleging liability for payments for judgments against Millsaps, Stegenga, Baker, Williams, Roberts, Burke & Borowski)

VIII "Indemnification" Village of Dolton

(alleging liability for payments for judgments against unknown Dolton officer)

IX "Indemnification" Village of Riverdale (alleging liability for payments for judgments against unknown Riverdale officer)

X 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, Millsaps, Baker, 1985 conspiracy count Williams, Roberts, Burke, Borowski & unknown officers XI 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, DeGraff, Lapp, & Smith 1985 conspiracy count XII 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, DeGraff, Cars, Lapp, & 1985 conspiracy count Kulcyzk XIII 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, Smith, Village of South 1985 conspiracy count Holland & DeGraff XIV 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) Cars, Kulcyzk, South Racketeering count Holland & DeGraff XV 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, Kulcyzk & unknown driver 1985 "Fourth of tow truck #63 Amendment"

XV No. 2 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 1983, Village of S. Holland, (erroneously 1985 "Malicious S. Holland P.D., labeled "XV") ...

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