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Deputies Accused Of Buying Up Newspaper Copies

The publisher of St. Mary’s Today, a weekly tabloid in St. Mary’s County, Md., filed a civil rights suit in Greenbelt’s U.S. District Court that alleges seven sheriff’s deputies violated his free speech rights last year, according to a report in The Washington Post.

The suit claims that on Election Day, Nov. 3, 1998, the deputies bought up more than 3,000 copies of St. Mary’s Today early in the morning to prevent circulation of unflattering stories about political candidates Sheriff Richard J. Voorhaar and State’s Attorney Richard D. Fritz.
Kenneth C. Rossignol, publisher of the paper, said the deputies purchased the papers ?for the sole purpose of preventing distribution to the voting public of two news articles? concerning the candidates.

A criminal probe by the FBI into the case turned up evidence of the deputies videotaping themselves sticking quarters in newspaper boxes during the middle of the night.
Neither Fritz nor Voorhaar responded to the allegations of orchestrating the newspaper buy-
out. Previously, both officials said the deputies had acted alone.
Rossignol is represented by attorney Alice Neff Lucan who, because of the First Amendment issues in the case, has received backing by the D.C. media litigation firm of Levine, Sullivan & Koch.
After 10 years of publishing the paper, Rossignol announced in September that he would cease publishing St. Mary’s Today, but continue an online version.


Staff reports

(c) Copyright 1999, Editor & Publisher

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