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Police Deparment issues apology to Taddeo in defamation settlement

The Niagara Falls Police Department has issued a formal apology to help settle a defamation-of-character lawsuit.

John S. Taddeo, a former Niagara County sheriff's deputy who worked in the court system, sued city police over a "be on the lookout" alert the department issued, falsely accusing Taddeo of criminal conduct, said Andrew P. Fleming, Taddeo's attorney.

The apology was part of a settlement reached shortly before a trial was scheduled to get under way in early January before State Supreme Court Justice Richard Kloch Sr.

Fleming noted that Kloch said to Taddeo in court, "I don't know how your name was allowed to be picked up by the media," adding, "I think, obviously, clearly there were mistakes made by the Niagara Falls Police Department."

The apology, which was issued last week, was announced this week.

Police Superintendent John Chella told Taddeo the alert "was a terrible accident," said Fleming, adding that an undisclosed financial payment also was part of the settlement.

Taddeo's name "was splattered across the headlines in at least two newspapers, even though he had done nothing wrong," Fleming said. It was not reported in The Buffalo News.

Taddeo had been accused of being seen on 19th Street with a handgun, shaking down drug dealers for money or narcotics. The public was urged to exercise caution.

"He wasn't even at the scene this was an absolute travesty," Fleming said. "John is a good man from a good Niagara Falls family."

Taddeo, a Niagara County resident, served in the courts as a deputy for 19 years until he was fired in 2006 by the Sheriff's Office.

In an unrelated lawsuit, Taddeo sued Niagara County, the Sheriff's Office and former Sheriff Thomas A. Beilein in U.S. District Court over his firing. That case was dismissed last March and affirmed by the U.S. District Court of Appeals Second Circuit on Tuesday.

According to U.S. District Court records, Taddeo, following an internal investigation, had admitted in 2005 that he used drugs recreationally and agreed to participate in a treatment program as part of a "last chance agreement." Evidence of cocaine was detected in his urine on three subsequent occasions in 2006, and he was fired, according to court records.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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