First Amendment suit could cost Yonkers taxpayers $400K

Yonkers taxpayers could get stuck with a $400,000 legal bill for a First Amendment lawsuit that was filed against outgoing Mayor Phil Amicone.

Three years ago, city workers were spotted removing blue boxes containing the newspaper of the publisher Sam Zherka off the streets. More than a dozen readers of the publication, which was often critical of Amicone, sued the mayor for violating their civil rights and won.

Though the initial judgment was for $8 million, both sides eventually reached a settlement of $400,000, which Amicone now wants the city to pay.

The city's legal team says the appeals process could cost taxpayers millions and will take years if a settlement is not reached.

If the City Council passes the settlement, Zherka says his readers will file a separate lawsuit to make Amicone personally liable.

"We will confiscate his assets and make him the poster child of what happens when you violate the First Amendment," Zherka says.

The Yonkers City Council will vote on the settlement agreement next Tuesday.

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