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Michigan, USA – “It is hard enough to make a living in Michigan. Now have to give up the right to protect ourselves when our lives are being threatened. This state is getting way out of control,” says Andrew Gabara, of Clinton Township.
Gabara’s comments are in light of the ongoing frustration Chaldeans in Clinton Township are feeling regarding the Nick’s Party Stop robbery. “This state is backward. They were protecting themselves form being robbed and now they are being sued. Where is the justice?”
Scott Zielinski, who was found guilty and sentenced to prison for the November 2007 robbing Nick’s Party Stop in Clinton Township sued the store owner and employees from prison for beating him up during the robbery. John Acho, and three employees including Acho's nephew Justin Kallo, who shot Zielinski twice were named in the suit.
Zielinski, 23, filed the lawsuit in April after he was shot while robbing the store on Cass Avenue, south of 19 Mile Road, near Chippewa Valley High School. Zielinski, wielding a knife and wearing a mask, entered the store about 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15, 2007, and demanded cash and cigarettes. As he fled out the front door carrying a bag of money and cigarettes, he was shot in the arm.
Originally charged with armed robbery, he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of unarmed robbery and was sentencing in May 2008 to eight to 22 years in prison, in a plea deal with Macomb prosecutors. Zielinski had a prior armed robbery conviction for robbing a Charter One Bank branch in Warren, for which he was sentenced to one year and seven months in prison.
“Even though this man is a proven bank robber, armed robber, and threat to society he now is able to intimidate his victims by suing them for beating him up. What is wrong with this picture?” added Gabara.
The lawsuit claimed the store employee shot him and the owner and other employees excessively beat the robber outside the store following the robbery. One witness, Andrew Thomas, indicated some of the defendants continued to beat Zielinski even though he had stopped fighting.
Tom Peters — the attorney representing Acho and Kallo, asked Judge David Viviano of Macomb County Circuit Court to approve a $10,000 bond to defend the case. In many civil cases, the losing party is responsible to pay the winning party's legal costs. Peters request that the plaintiff post the $10,000 bond should he lose proved to be a wise strategy.
Countering the claim, Attorney Peters told the judge that this was one version and that as many witnesses are prepared to show Zielinski was "struggling" and "swinging at" the defendants.
Judge Viviano said the amount sounded more than fair and approved the bond proposal.
"There are some disputes of facts," Peters said afterward outside the courtroom. He added that many others will offer statements showing that "(The defendants) didn't continue to beat him.
Acho reported that the defendants attacked Zielinski because he held two of the employees at knifepoint and threatened to kill them.
Judge Viviano eventually dismissed Zielinski’s lawsuit when he failed to post the $10,000 bond. “They called his bluff and proved this chronic criminal is a menace to society,” says Gabara.
Circuit Judge David Viviano had ordered Zielinski to post the bond in case he lost his lawsuit and must pay the victors' attorney fees. Zielinski didn't post bond, so Viviano dismissed the lawsuit.