Beacon Dropped from Lawsuit

Man settles with former detective; says arrested for no reason

By Chip Rowe

A federal judge dropped the city of Beacon from a federal lawsuit filed by a Wappingers Falls man who said he was arrested by a detective on fake drug charges. The detective, who is no longer on the force, last month settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

Derrick Lorick Jr., 28, who, according to court documents is also known as “Little D,” filed a civil suit against the city and former detective Richard Sassi Jr. in August, charging that Sassi arrested him in 2011 without probable cause.

Richard Sassi in a 2014 mug shot

No drugs were found during the arrest. Eighteen months later, the charges against Lorick were dropped at the request of the Dutchess County district attorney. In this case and eight others, the office concluded it could not proceed because Sassi had no credibility due to allegations he had made a fake 911 call to cover up an affair with the female informant.

Sassi was fired by the Beacon Police Department in 2014 after a two-day hearing led by Mayor Randy Casale. The detective, who joined the force in 2001 and earned $84,228 annually, had been suspended with pay in 2012 after his arrest.

Sassi was convicted in 2013, and again in a retrial in 2016, of a misdemeanor charge of falsely reporting a burglary. According to prosecutors, he called 911 after being caught by the informant’s boyfriend in a closet in her Fishkill apartment wearing only boxer shorts.

The two men exchanged words, prosecutors said, and Sassi called 911 to report encountering a burglar. He identified himself as “Mike Smith.”

Sassi was sentenced in 2016 to 60 days in jail, three years of probation and 1,500 hours of community service. “You damaged the reputation of the department as a whole, the drug task force and the Beacon community,” Dutchess County Judge Craig Stephen Brown said at the time.

In his lawsuit, Lorick said Sassi and other officers pulled him over in Beacon and arrested him on Sept. 24, 2011. Lorick claimed Sassi got his name from his informant-girlfriend and that he was making false drug busts to “move up the ladder” in the Beacon department. Lorick said the detective knew Lorick was on parole and that the arrest would trigger a violation.

Lorick, who spent four days in jail, also sued the city, claiming it had a policy that allowed officers to make arrests without warrants or probable cause. In his own circular defense, Sassi argued that because a grand jury indicted Lorick based on the detective’s testimony, there must have been probable cause.

Judge Vincent Briccetti of the U.S. District Court in White Plains ruled in March that the arrest had been the action of a “rogue police officer” and granted the city’s request to be dropped from the case. On April 13, Sassi reached a settlement with Lorick. His attorney, Ryanne Konan, said he could not disclose the amount. Sassi’s attorney, Seamus Weir, also said he could not comment.