Cop Files False Imprisonment Suit Over Candy Bar Theft Allegation
WILKES-BARRE — A Luzerne County detective filed suit Friday alleging a local security firm and a major supermarket falsely imprisoned him over allegations he stole a candy bar last year.
Charles J. Balogh Jr., filed suit against Legion Security Services, Inc., and Aldi, alleging a security guard “falsely, publicly and maliciously” accused him of stealing a candy bar, despite having no proof whatsoever that a theft occurred.
“It became pretty clear very quickly when the Kingston police officer showed up and reviewed the video footage that the guy made the whole thing up,” said Balogh’s attorney Frank J. Tunis Jr., of Dickson City. “I can’t understand what the motivation was at this point, but it seems to me that this guy just abuses his power as a security guard.”
Reached by phone Friday afternoon, Legion owner Trent Miller said he had not yet been served with the lawsuit and could not comment.
“But wow,” Miller added.
According to the complaint, Balogh was shopping at the Aldi at 481 Pierce St. in Kingston on Jan. 17, 2018, when security guard John T. Barton, of Forty Fort, stopped him.
Barton accused Balogh of stealing a candy bar and compelled him to submit to a search for the allegedly concealed confection, according to the suit. Balogh advised Barton he had not stolen anything and demanded to be released, but Barton refused to do so, the complaint says.
Kingston police responded to the store — Tunis said at Balogh’s request — and confirmed the detective had not stolen anything, the complaint says.
The lawsuit says Barton claimed to have seen Balogh put a candy bar in his pocket, although he was unable to identify which pocket. Video surveillance also showed Balogh walking down the middle of the aisle and that he “never even approached any of the display racks in that isle,” the complaint says.
Court records show Balogh was never charged with any crime.
The lawsuit says Barton “made up the entire story” for an unknown reason, and that the “public confrontation was personally and professionally embarrassing” for the detective.
The complaint alleges false imprisonment on the part of all defendants and negligent hiring, training and supervision of an employee on the part of Legion and Aldi.
Tunis said Friday that he believed Barton has level similar false accusations before.
“It’s our understanding it’s not the first time,” he said.
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages.