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Whitewater settles lawsuit with former businessman

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Ted Sullivan
August 9, 2008
— A former Whitewater businessman has settled his federal civil rights lawsuit against a retired Whitewater police detective he accused of wrongful arrests, improper searches and harassment of his Latino employees.

Stephen D. Cvicker, 56, former owner of Whitewater Rock and Mulch, sued former police detective Larry P. Meyer, 61, in May 2005.


A settlement was reached this week, according to court records, and the trial scheduled to begin Monday was cancelled.


The amount of the settlement is confidential, said Ryan Braithwaite, the attorney for Meyer and the city of Whitewater. He declined to comment further.


Cvicker previously had been offered up to $82,500 to drop his lawsuit, according to court records.


The city’s insurance carrier will pay the settlement, city manager Kevin Brunner said, and taxpayers will not foot the bill.


He said he’s glad the case is over.


Cvicker’s attorney, Mark Sostarich, said the settlement will avoid any risk of going to trial for both sides.


“It’s a settlement,” he said, declining to comment further. “It is resolved.”


Many of Cvicker’s allegations were dismissed from the lawsuit because Meyer was granted immunity for acting appropriately as a police officer, the judge decided.


But Cvicker still was allowed to pursue his claim that the detective wrongfully destroyed some of Cvicker’s personal belongings taken outside the scope of a 2005 search of Cvicker’s business, the judge decided.


Whitewater police were investigating Cvicker’s employees for allegations of identity theft, according to a 2005 search warrant, and Cvicker was suspected of bailjumping.


It wasn’t the first time Meyer had investigated Cvicker.


Cvicker was convicted in March 2004 of hiring someone to burn his rental property to collect insurance money.


He later appealed, claiming Meyer and other detectives withheld evidence from his defense attorneys after he was charged with party to arson with intent to defraud an insurer.


Meyer also was at the center of the August 2006 raid at Star Packaging when federal agents detained 25 suspected illegal immigrants.


Meyer led the raid.


Cvicker’s lawsuit and the raid led to tension between Whitewater police and Latinos.


The American Civil Liberties Union then investigated whether Whitewater police officers were racially profiling and harassing Latinos.


Police department officials said the Star Packaging raid was an investigation into its owner for alleged identity theft.



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