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Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Wednesday, December 6, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Arrested Lobbyist Says Tech Guy Concocted Hostage Story

Humiliated after he was charged with taking a computer technician “hostage, a D.C. lobbyist wants punitive damages from his accuser, as well as Dell and Unisys.

ARLINGTON, Va. (CN) – Humiliated after he was charged with taking a computer technician “hostage, a D.C. lobbyist wants punitive damages from his accuser, as well as Dell and Unisys.

Joseph Nestor Mondello, son of New York's Nassau Republican Party chairman Joseph Mondello, was arrested between Christmas and New Year’s last year after chaos erupted from what should have been a routine IT visit at his Virginia home.

Filing suit Tuesday in Arlington County Circuit Court, Mondello says he had been working for weeks to have Dell repair his overheating laptop.

After two technicians tried and failed, Dell allegedly dispatched Muhammad Zia Ul Haq to Mondello’s home at South Grove Street on Dec. 28.

Mondello says it became clear to him, however, that Haq could not fix the computer so he asked him to leave.

“In turn, Haq become belligerent and irate," the complaint states.

Mondello says it was Haq who was “threatening and abusive,” but that he spun a different story to police.

Haq went straight to the Arlington County Police Department and falsely claimed that Mondello "threatened to kill him," according to the complaint.

Accusing Mondello of brandishing a handgun, Haq allegedly said the 50-year-old lobbyist would not let him leave until the repair was finished.

He claimed he was able to escape when Mondello became distracted, according to the complaint.

Mondello says he was contacted later that day by a police officer who said his son and wife were in custody. Unbeknownst to the plaintiff, two warrants were issued for his arrest: abduction and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Following the officer’s instructions to leave his home, Mondello says he stepped out his front door to find “several red laser beams on his chests and multiple police officers with police canines in his front yard.”

Officers handcuffed Mondello "in his underwear, in full view of his neighbors," according to the complaint, and kept him standing out in the rain for several hours while police searched his home, with a SWAT team and armored vehicle parked out front.

Mondello says they did not find any handgun. “The search warrant produced a gun which the inventory described as a ‘fake wooden 'pirate' style handgun,’” the complaint says. Mondello's wife later noted that the souvenir came from a family trip to Disney World.

Still Mondello was arraigned, released on bond and forced to meet with a probation officer every week for months.

Come May, according to the complaint, Haq met with a prosecutor and gave "very different statements" from his original claims against Mondello.

This time, Haq admitted that Mondello never restrained him. He also confessed that "he was unsure what Mondello was holding in his hand on the night of December 28, 2015, and that it could have been a remote-control device."

Mondello says the felony charges were dropped.

Alleging counts of malicious persecution for the "intentional and malicious lies" Haq told the police," Mondello also accuses the defendants of false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation.

Seeking $4 million in damages, Mondello is represented by Edward Nuttall, an attorney with the Fairfax firm Carroll and Nuttall.

Contacted by Courthouse News, Nuttall said by email that, "the complaint speaks for itself."

"My client has had a tremendously difficult year, as you can well imagine," he added.

Dell and Unisys did not return phone calls and emails seeking comment.

Categories / Civil Rights, Politics

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