press release: coney asks court to overturn his plea bargain


ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (September 17, 2014) – Attorneys for Harrah’s Atlantic City casino beating victim Roscoe (Rob) R. Coney, III are asking the Court to overturn his plea bargain and permanently clear his record. In a motion for post-conviction relief filed with the Municipal Court of Atlantic City, they assert that Mr. Coney was framed by his attackers and but for his ineffective defense counsel he would never have agreed to even a minor charge and fine.. His previously filed Federal civil rights lawsuit alleges Mr. Coney was the innocent victim of an unprovoked, brutal beating in full public view captured on the casino’s own security system.

The filing yesterday of the Motion (NJMC: 13-102813) is the latest court action in the series of recent cases – filed in state and Federal courts – resulting from an alleged pattern of Harrah’s casino security guard use of excessive force against a widely diverse group of defenseless patrons, many, like Mr. Coney, who were invited guests to the casino’s Pool After Dark nightclub. In Mr. Coney’s case (U.S. District Court 1:14 cv-049-RBK-AMD) the security video clearly shows him on September 21, 2013 being repeatedly beaten with a rigid baton about the head by uniformed Atlantic City Police Officer Donnell Holland, who was working as part of the casino’s security detail.

No charges have been filed to date against the Officer. It is asserted in the Motion that Mr. Coney, who at one point is seen in the video face down in a pool of his own blood, should never have been charged with any offense since he never engaged in any unlawful conduct. In fact, it was later learned through filed reports that he was falsely accused of being another individual his attackers suspected of being a troublemaker. Once charged with a variety of trumped up serious offenses, the Motion contends that his counsel should have opposed the plea agreement by which he would to pay a fine of $250.00, plead to a downgraded harassment charge, and accept a two-year probationary term.

His new attorneys, Paul D’Amato, Esq., and Michael Maggiano, Esq., who also represent numerous other plaintiffs in the litigation against Harrah’s and its parent company, Caesars, filed the Motion for post-conviction relief on his behalf. They contend that attorney E. Allen Nickerson, of Berlin, NJ, failed to provide an effective defense by recommending that Mr. Coney accept the terms of the prosecutor’s plea agreement. “Mr. Coney and his law-abiding friends went to Harrah’s to enjoy their evening. Instead, due to the inexplicable actions of the inept and violent Harrah’s security force, he was placed in a life-threatening situation as a result of the sadistic beating he suffered at the hands of Officer Holland,” said Mr. Maggiano. “Without question, he was an innocent victim and he was framed by his accusers, including sworn Atlantic City officers of the law acting on behalf of Harrah’s. They knowingly and falsely charged him with serious and unsupportable offenses.” Co-counsel D’Amato added, “The Motion seeks, in part, to restore Mr. Coney’s dignity since he did nothing wrong and his side of the story was never adequately presented to the prosecutor or to the Court which accepted his plea. Sadly, the physical scars from the beating will be with him the rest of his life.”–

Mr. Coney, 25, of Philadelphia, is a marketing executive and was a standout player at St. Joseph’s Prep and Millersville University.