(CN) – Radio hosts lied on air, saying that a father used his now-closed New York meat market to sell “large quantities” of marijuana, for which his son was caught, the father claims in court.
Michael Amalfi Sr. sued WAIO-FM/Radio 95.1, two of its hosts and its owner, iHeartMedia Inc., in Monroe County, N.Y. Supreme Court on Sept. 9.
Amalfi, who now lives in Broward County, Fla., says he was born and raised in the Rochester, N.Y. area, where WAIO is located. “For many years, he worked with his father, Charles, and his two brothers in a family meat market, aptly named ‘Amalfi’s,'” according to the complaint.
The business, which closed around 2000, was the subject of WAIO’s “Kimberly and Beck in the Afternoon” broadcast on May 13, 2015, Amalfi says. The show is hosted by defendants Kimberly Ray and Barry Beck, the lawsuit states.
The pair “began to discuss a news story regarding the plaintiff’s son, Michael Amalfi Jr.,” who had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and traffic in drugs for selling marijuana between 2010 and 2013, according to the complaint.
“After incorrectly asserting that the money laundering and marijuana sales took place at the Brighton Restaurant on East Ave., a business with which Michael Amalfi Jr. had been involved, the program hosts proceeded to impugn the plaintiff,” the lawsuit states.
Ray allegedly stated that Amalfi’s son “is free on $50,000 bail because, I think, daddy Michael Amalfi Sr. has beaucoup bucks. His family used to own a meat market on North Ave. and Portland Ave. in the city. He sold pounds of marijuana. … I would say allegedly.”
Amalfi claims the host went on to say, “Not pounds of steak, but pounds of dope – allegedly.”
Beck and Ray later “made categorical, but false, statements of fact,” the lawsuit says.
For instance, Ray said the Amalfis “grew up to run the Brighton and use it as a drug and money laundering front,” the complaint states. The host allegedly added, “I don’t think they were selling little bits, I think they were selling large quantities.”
To clarify, Ray said, “You’re not going to have 50 people come up to buy a dime bag from whatever,” according to the complaint.
Amalfi claims Beck responded by saying, “Let’s just call it the BJ’s of marijuana sales,” referring to the national wholesale club. Amalfi says their claims are not true.
“The plaintiff has never been engaged in the sale of marijuana or any other illicit substances,” the complaint states. “Amalfi’s Meat Market was not an outlet for the merchandising of marijuana either in small quantities or large quantities as the program hosts claimed.”
In fact, Amalfi says he “is involved in civic affairs to a limited degree,” as an honorary member and past chair of the Golisano Children’s Hospital Board and a member of the New York State Signal 30 Police advisory board, among other roles. (8)
Before they were hired by WAIO, Ray and Beck were suspended in May 2014 and later fired from their job at WBZA, Rochester’s “Buzz” radio station, Amalfi’s lawsuit claims.
“Their termination followed a controversy prompted by their on-air rant over the recent expansion of transgender healthcare benefits by the city of Rochester,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit says Ray declared, “The dude can look like a lady and the city is going to pay for it … your tax dollars at work!” It also claims that, later in the broadcast, Beck asked, “Does that mean that if a woman wants to have a boob job, they’ll pay for the boob job?”
WBZA’s corporate owner, Entercom Rochester, later issued a public apology, Amalfi says.
“Evidently, based, in part, upon their demonstrated propensity for incendiary and/or offensive comments and the perceived audience appeal of such comments, Ms. Ray and Mr. Beck were hired by the defendants, WAIO-FM/95.1 and iHeartMedia Inc.,” his lawsuit states.
Amalfi seeks an unspecified amount of damages for defamation. He is represented by Donald O’Brien Jr. with Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP in Rochester.
The defendants have yet to return a request for comment from Courthouse News.
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