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Man wins freedom of speech lawsuit

Seven years in the making, Matteo Anello’s free speech fight ended Tuesday with a $105,000 jury award.

Anello, a former Niagara Falls planning board member and the brother of former Mayor Vince Anello, sued the city and several Niagara Falls officials after he was barred from speaking at a Niagara Falls City Council meeting in 2007.

His case, tried before Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny, ended when the jury found three city officials had violated Anello’s First Amendment rights. The jury also awarded $30,000 in compensatory damages and $75,000 in punitive damages.

The verdict applies to former city council members Samuel Fruscione and Chris Robins and current council member Robert Anderson Jr. The city and three other defendants had already been removed from the suit.