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City settled Olma's suit for $15,000, sources say Deal keeps police from getting tied up in court

The amount of money city attorneys agreed to pay Gregory B. Olma to settle a false arrest lawsuit against four Buffalo Police officers is $15,000, according to City Hall sources.

Attorneys in the case had declined to say how much money was involved, even though the Buffalo Common Council will have to approve it, saying the settlement was confidential.

Olma, 47, a former Erie County legislator, sued both the city and county after two election inspectors accused him of making sexual and racial slurs in a dispute at a polling place. Olma denied ever uttering the slurs.

Assistant Corporation Counsel Carmen J. Gentile said the city admitted no liability or fault in the settlement reached before a scheduled trial before U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara. Gentile said the city settled the case rather than tie up four police officers in court for a two-week trial.

Olma was arrested in September 2000 by two lieutenants, Albert Liberatore and Mark Michalek, and Officers Richard Lopez and Martin Forero, on the complaint of county election inspectors Karen R. Gregory and Adrea M. Newbern.

Olma collected $25,000 from Erie County earlier this year after the county settled its lawsuit.

The criminal charges against him were dismissed after an Erie County grand jury found the election inspectors' testimony not credible, according to prosecutors.

The city and county settlements do not set aside any additional funds for Olma's attorney, James Ostrowski. Under normal fee arrangements in this type of case, Ostrowski would collect a third of Olma's settlement.

e-mail: mbeebe@buffnews.com

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