A settlement has been reached in a wrongful arrest lawsuit brought by an Oswego County resident against the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
Gerardo Vázquez-Mentado received a monetary award in the March 10 out-of-court settlement, according to Wally Ruehle, one of the attorneys on the case. Ruehle said his client did not want to disclose any further details.
Vázquez-Mentado was represented by Ruehle, from the Legal Aid Society; David Irving of the Worker Justice Center; and Peter O’Brian Dellinger of the Empire Justice Center.
Vázquez-Mentado had filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in May of 2012 against four arresting agents and the chief Border Patrol agent of the Buffalo sector, according to a press release from the Empire Justice Center.
In the settlement, Border Patrol did not admit that it had acted wrongfully, according to the press release from the center, which cited the case as an example of how "hyper vigilant border enforcement can violate people’s civil liberties."
David Long, a Border Patrol spokesman, said the agency cannot comment on legal actions or proceedings.
The suit arose from the Sept. 29, 2009, arrest of Vázquez-Mentado, a native of Mexico who is now a U.S. citizen and has lived in the Sodus and Oswego areas for 20 years. The incident was described in a Jan. 16, 2010, El Mensajero Católico article.
In 2009, Vázquez-Mentado’s wife, Cherrie, told El Mensajero that she and her husband were parked in Sodus when they were approached by a Border Patrol van with flashing red lights. Officers accused him of being in the country illegally, she said, but would not tell him why they pulled up behind the couple’s vehicle.
Cherrie Vázquez said the agents did not have an arrest warrant for her husband, but held him at the Oswego Border Patrol station until she was able to bring them his citizenship papers.