Store owner sues police, claiming slander


The president of a Fulton computer store is suing the Howard County Police Department, alleging that detectives told potential customers that he was a "thief" after prosecutors dropped theft and insurance fraud charges against him in February.

James R. Swassing, president of Computer Country Inc., in the 11000 block of Route 216, was arrested and charged with attempted insurance fraud and other charges stemming from an April 1996 break-in at Computer Country, the suit says.

Swassing was prosecuted in Howard County Circuit Court, but the jury deadlocked on most of the charges and a judge dismissed a guilty verdict on one count, the suit says.

The suit alleges that police seized Computer Country's property and returned only some of it.

Swassing is arguing that police violated his civil rights, falsified official police records and documents, withheld evidence, "unlawfully substituted evidence and documents, made false, slanderous and defamatory statements about plaintiffs and converted and made improper use of the property of plaintiffs."

The suit also alleges that Swassing was falsely arrested.

Sgt. Morris Carroll, a police spokesman, said he could not comment on the lawsuit because it is pending litigation.

Pub Date: 7/29/99

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