(CN) – The author of “Confessions of a Second-Story Man: Junior Kripplebauer and the K&A Gang” did not defame a man by writing about his alleged gang activity decades ago, a New Jersey appeals court ruled.
John Berkery Sr. sued author Allen Hornblum and several major booksellers after “Confessions” was published in December 2005. He called Hornblum a “reckless researcher and a proven liar,” and said the author lied about him in the book.
Hornblum, a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, wrote about a group of burglars who were active in the 1950s and 1960s. In his research, Hornblum gathered newspaper articles, police records and government documents about Berkery’s alleged involvement with the gang.
Berkery claimed that Hornblum defamed him on at least 20 of the book’s 273 pages.
Hornblum wrote that Berkery was the “main nexus between Irish mobsters and the Mafia” and was involved in murder, robbery and drug activity.
The trial court ruled for Hornblum, and the New Jersey Appellate Division agreed that Berkery hadn’t proved that Hornblum and the booksellers acted with malice.
“His proffered proofs, which consisted of self-serving denials and irrelevant accusations, failed to satisfy his burden,” Judge Philip Carchman wrote.
Berkery was also unsuccessful in 2008 in his defamation claim against a newspaper that reported on his efforts to halt publication of the book.
In his current lawsuit, Berkery sued Hornblum, his publisher, Barricade Books and several booksellers, including Borders, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.