A tort claim notice has been filed against the Indiana State Police, Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer, Kosciusko County and Warsaw City Council on behalf of Chad Zartman, of Warsaw.
Zartman is a local landlord and vocal critic of Thallemer.
Zartman is being represented by Massillamany, Jeter and Carson out of Hamilton County.
Certified letters were sent to all parties by the law firm Tuesday to give notice of intent of filing, which has to be done within a certain period of time, said Mario Massillamany, managing partner of the law firm. As of right now, no tort claim has been filed.
This results from an incident following a Warsaw City Council meeting on March 28 when two phones were taken from Zartman by ISP. The tort claim notice alleges the phones were taken before warrants were drawn up.
Thallemer said Tuesday he became aware of an ISP investigation into Zartman’s online activities approximately four months ago when he was approached by the ISP and later interviewed.
“I find it hard to believe the state police would launch an investigation without merit or confiscate telephones without the proper warrants,” Thallemer said.
ISP Public Information Officer Sgt. Ted Bohner and Kosiusko County Prosecutor Dan Hampton both said Tuesday that they were unable to comment on the tort claim because it was tied to an ongoing investigation.
No charges have so far been filed as a result of the investigation.
Massillamany said during a telephone interview Tuesday Zartman was trying to help Thallemer’s opponents in the upcoming primary election by uploading a video to website disappointingjoethallemer.com.
Massillamany said this is a case of First Amendment infringement and there is case law that supports that.
“We are claiming this is political speech,” Massillamany said.
In a news release, Massillamany said, “Every citizen in America should have the right to speak freely about political issues and not be targeted by the government.”
Massillamany also said there was no warrant obtained.
“No judge would have signed off on the warrant,” he said.
A news release from the law firm claims it wasn’t until after the phones were taken, “did Indiana State Police Officers write a probably cause affidavit and search warrant containing many falsehoods.”