A Seaford gun store owner has been awarded $5 million following a federal jury verdict Wednesday that ruled his business was damaged from a wrongful Nassau County police arrest in 2007.
Bellmore resident Martin Tretola and his business, T&T Gunnery on 3778 Merrick Road in Seaford, were awarded $3 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages by the federal jury in Central Islip, according to court records.
Tretola, who also owns a T&T Tactical in Garden City Park, filed his suit against Nassau County in 2008 following a June 2007 arrest for first-degree reckless endangerment on the basis that he was operating an illegal makeshift gun range inside the Seaford store near an active natural gas line. The charge was later dropped but the arrest left Tretola and T&T Gunnery out of business for around a year until his necessary licenses were reinstated on June 23, 2008, according to court documents.
Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli said they plan to file a motion contesting the jury's verdict in hopes it will be set aside.
"We clearly think that the jury verdict is out of touch with the facts of this case," Ciampoli said. "We think the police had probable cause for what they did."
Despite winning his case, Tretola said the $5 million does not make up for the pain the 2007 arrest caused him and his business.
“It doesn’t seem like a lot after what they did to us,” he said.
Tretola and his son Thomas in February 2011 were arrested following an undercover investigation into the sale of assault weapons at gun shops throughout Nassau County. Tretola said he also expects to win a civil suit against the county for the 2011 arrest but antiicpates that process taking a few more years. The 2011 charges against Tretola were dismissed by a Grand Jury earlier this year, according to Chris Munzing from the Nassau County District Attorney's office.
- Geoffrey Walter contributed to this story