HARDWICK — The family feud being played out in federal court, where Hardwick police officers are being accused of looking the other way while two people were repeatedly harassed, now has more defendants.
A federal judge recently added the towns of Hardwick and Greensboro and the Hardwick Police Department to the list of defendants.
According to court records, Ray Shatney, of Greensboro, and Janet Steward, of Plainfield, are suing for undisclosed damages for incidents they say occurred around 2008. The pair allege that town and police officials did nothing as members of Shatney’s family destroyed his property, tried to injure his cattle and stole his parents’ Social Security checks.
The pair’s attorney Timothy Yarrow said the police violated his clients’ right to due process and that the towns did nothing about it. Shatney and Steward co-own several businesses that are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
The two towns and the Police Department, which also serves Greensboro on a contract basis, join former Hardwick Police Chief Joseph LaPorte, former officer William Field, current officer Tanner Atwood and the director of Hardwick-Greensboro Restorative Justice, Carol Plante, as defendants.
The suit claims Shatney and Steward have suffered mental anguish, insomnia, humiliation, and emotional and physical distress due in part to the failure of town officials and police to properly investigate allegations of criminal activity by Shatney’s family.
In court records, Shatney claims his brother Leo Shatney and Leo’s daughter Sandy Thompson conspired to steal their parents’ Social Security checks for their own use. Ray Shatney claims he reported a forgery of the checks to the police but that it was never investigated. He also claims Thompson would drive by his farm and honk her horn, causing Shatney’s cattle to spook and once causing a bull to knock Shatney over, hurting his elbow.
Ray Shatney also reported that several hundred nails were thrown into his pasture. He blamed Keven Rich, who was the dog warden in Hardwick and Greensboro at the time of the incidents. Shatney also said Rich was behind the police inaction on his claims, citing Rich’s close ties to Hardwick police officers. Rich is married to Ray Shatney’s niece.
Ray Shatney and Steward claim they made their complaints known to the select boards in Hardwick and Greensboro but that the issues with the Police Department were never resolved and the harassment continued.
In 2008, Greensboro Select Board member Anne Stevens directed Plante, the director of restorative justice, to look into the matter. The program offers options to address low-level crimes and disputes within the community, but Ray Shatney and Steward claim Plante and Hardwick police conspired to fraudulently conduct a criminal investigation. The program is not authorized to act as a detective or fact-finding tool to assist police.
Contacted for comment, Greensboro Select Board member Susan Wood said she had no information on the case. Hardwick Police Chief Aaron Cochran, Hardwick Town Manager Jon Jewett and the other members of the Greensboro Select Board did not respond to requests for comment.
The case is scheduled to be ready for trial in December, and discovery for the case is due by August.
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