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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Publisher Claims Mayor Defamed Him as Mobster

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CN) - The publisher of the "Westchester Guardian" weekly newspaper claims Yonkers Mayor Philip Amicone defamed him as a "convicted drug dealer" and "Albanian mobster," after the Guardian accused Amicone of providing "no-show jobs for political cronies."

In his federal complaint, Selim Zherka, a naturalized citizen from Albania, says he published a series of articles in the Westchester Guardian that were "highly critical" of Amicone's performance as mayor.

The July 2007 articles accused Amicone of "corruption permeating his administration; no-show jobs for political cronies resulting in the theft of taxpayers' money in excess of $1 million; repeated First Amendment violations; failure to curb and/or attempt to curb systemic police brutality ... inability and/or unwillingness to reduce city spending and taxes; [and] gross misuse of the city's police force to target plaintiff and other individuals, who non-disruptively distributed copies of "The Westchester Guardian" on city-owned public property, for criminal prosecution on a Yonkers Code violation," according to the complaint.

Zherka adds that at an October 2007 campaign event, Amicone falsely accused him of being a "convicted drug dealer," an "Albanian mobster," and a "thug." Zherka claims that the mayor warned about 60 people at the event that if he were defeated in the election, Zherka would open "strip clubs" and "drug dens," and "'loot' Yonkers residents' 'pension funds' and 'loot' the city of Yonkers."

Zherka claims that in December 2009, the Manhattan Federal Court dismissed without prejudice his previous claim of slander.

Zherka seeks $40 million. He is represented by Jonathan Lovett with Lovett & Bellantoni of Hawthorne, N.Y.

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