Mark Hamblett, New York Law Journal
The New York Police Department has agreed to revamp an eight-year-old sting program whereby officers plant purses and unattended valuables in plain sight to lure thieves.
As part of a $50,000 settlement filed before Eastern District Judge Sandra Townes (See Profile), the city agreed to changes in "Operation Lucky Bag," which had drawn suits claiming police were committing civil rights violations by tempting law-abiding citizens with tactics such as leaving a backpack propped against a wall with a wallet visible—the sting that netted the named plaintiff in Argyros v. The City of New York, 13cv2946.
Under the terms in Argyros, revealed Tuesday, the city agreed to pay $15,000 to Argyros, $25,000 to Tiffany Ivey and $10,000 to Jonathan Pierce.
Spirdon Argyros said he was a good samaritan who was arrested after picking up the backpack and placing the wallet in a plastic bag, intending to contact the owner.
Under the settlement, there are new guidelines for officers conducting the operations. Officers may only make arrests when there is probable cause to believe "there is a separation of any valuable from the rest of the property where the remaining property is left behind or discarded," when the perpetrator removes property from someone else's belongings and denies seeing or possessing the property.
The NYPD must regularly report the number of Lucky Bag operations, where they were conducted and the number of arrests.
Dara Weiss, senior counsel at the Law Department, represented the city.
The plaintiffs were represented by Siegel Teitelbaum & Evans partners Norman Siegel and Herbert Teitelbaum and firm associate Sharon Sprayregen; Timothy Parlatore of Cutler & Parlatore and Alan Sash, partner at McLaughlin & Stern.