Missouri Mayor Faces Volley of Charges From Political Foe

     ST. LOUIS (CN) – An embattled Missouri mayor had a political foe falsely arrested and used the mug shot in campaign literature, the man claims in court.
     Adrian Wright, 80, sued the City of Pine Lawn, Mayor Sylvester Caldwell and Pine Lawn police Officer Jarred Anderson on Tuesday in Federal Court.
     Wright is a former Pine Lawn alderman and mayor. His lawsuit is just the latest legal issue for Caldwell.
     In October, a federal grand jury indicted Caldwell on extortion charges. Last week, Caldwell interrupted the trial to plead guilty to extortion and attempted extortion. He agreed to resign as mayor immediately as a condition for remaining at liberty until his July 7 sentencing.
     In January, a former assistant police chief sued Caldwell and Pine Lawn in Federal Court. Steve Blackeney claimed he was fired for cooperating with an FBI investigation of Caldwell.
     Pine Lawn, pop. 3,261, is 5 miles northwest of St. Louis. Ninety-five percent of its residents are 95 percent African-American and the city’s 2012 a median income of $26,447 was 42 percent below the state median of $45,321, according to city-data.com.
     Wright claims Pine Lawn police targeted him after he criticized Caldwell. He says he was falsely accused and arrested for bogus municipal ordinance violations and was verbally threatened and abused.
     “I was wrongly accused of running a stop sign and failing to yield to a fictional emergency vehicle, threatened with a Taser and arrested by a Pine Lawn police officer,” Wright said in a statement.
     “Although all charges were dismissed, city officials ensured that my ‘perp walk’ was recorded for broadcast by a local TV station and Sylvester Caldwell later published my mug shot in campaign literature to falsely portray me as a criminal and discredit my endorsement of Caldwell’s mayoral opponent.”
     Wright says in the complaint that Caldwell orchestrated his arrest after he endorsed Nakisha Bell, who was running against Caldwell in 2013. At the time, Wright says, Pine Lawn did not have a police chief and that Caldwell was the de facto chief.
     Attempts to contact Pine Lawn officials were unsuccessful.
     Wright seeks damages for constitutional violations and conspiracy. He is represented by Anthony Rothert with the American Civil Liberties Union.

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