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Stamford Officer Accused of 'Sexting' On Confiscated Phone

Stamford Officer Accused of 'Sexting' On Confiscated Phone

The Stamford Advocate

December 01, 2010

STAMFORD — A man arrested in 2008 has filed a federal lawsuit claiming a city police officer used a cell phone confiscated from him to send sexually explicit photos and videos to himself and at least one other person.

William Vasilakos, of Stamford, filed suit in U.S. District Court against police Officer Michael Presti. The lawsuit accuses Presti of taking Vasilakos’ cell phone after his 2008 arrest and sending eight e-mails to his own phone and at least one other party. The e-mails contained sexually explicit text messages, images and videos of Vasilakos and his girlfriend.

Vasilakos and his girlfriend at the time of his arrest, Maria Saltides, are suing Presti, claiming his actions caused them humiliation, emotional distress and constituted an invasion of privacy. Presti is the only defendant in the lawsuit. Vasilakos and Saltides are no longer dating, their lawyer said.

Vasilakos’s attorney, Norman Pattis, accused Presti of illegally seizing the cell phone and using it for personal purposes.

“To go through the phone and search its contents, he’d need a warrant for that,” Pattis said. “There’s no justification for that.”

Vasilakos was arrested on misdemeanor charges on Aug. 16, 2008, following a bloody fight in a downtown convenience store that left three men with knife wounds. At the time, police said they found Vasilakos on top of a knife-wielding Stamford man who attacked Vasilakos and two other men after they began arguing over a woman. Officers shocked him with a Taser to end the melee.

The disposition of his criminal charges are unclear.

Stamford police Sgt. Jennifer Pinto of the Internal Affairs Unit said the department conducted an internal investigation into the allegations in 2008 and disciplined Presti.

Messages left with city attorneys were not returned Tuesday.

The lawsuit is the second incident this year involving a Stamford police officer and sexually explicit cell phone images.

In May, Officer Paul Mabey, a 14-year veteran on the force, was suspended and resigned after several woman accused him of showing them images of male genitals on his cell phone.

Mabey faces criminal misdemeanor charges as a result of an internal investigation and this fall applied for a first-time offender program that could dismiss his charges.

He is due in court Dec. 22 for a hearing on his application for the program.

Pattis said Vasilakos found suspicious activity on his cell phone the day after his arrest in August 2008.

He noticed a substantial amount of traffic to an unknown number and suspected it was Presti. He called the number and asked whether it was the officer, and Presti told him it was, Pattis said.

The department’s internal probe corroborates the allegations in the lawsuit, Pattis said.

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