New York Daily News

Suit-Happy Brothers Hit Finest a Fifth Time

BY JOHN MARZULLI DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

October 22, 2006—Cedric Matthews has raked in more than $200,000 suing the Police Department four separate times since 1996, and now he's at it again.

Matthews has filed his fifth suit against the Police Department, saying he was the victim of two illegal stop and searches.

Some may say he's a craven opportunist. His lawyer doesn't see it that way.

"While some see it as litigious, I see a guy who is just trying to fight back the only way he knows how - by bringing a lawsuit and letting the officers know they're not getting away with it," said attorney Steven Hoffner, who has represented Cedric, as well as his brother, Kevin Matthews, in the previous cases.

The last time the Matthews brothers were in Brooklyn Federal Court, in June 2005, a jury awarded them $8,000 and train fare for a clash with cops in the subway.

"Matthews and his lawyer live by the old adage: If you don't succeed, sue, sue again," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association lawyer Gregory Longworth, whose cop client was cleared of wrongdoing in the last trial.

The brothers biggest payday was a $160,000 settlement in 1997 after they said cops attacked them and another man without provocation.

In the latest suit, Cedric Matthews, 32, contends he was "minding my own business" when he was frisked and verbally harassed by Police Officer Brian Deboer on Jan. 15, 2005.

Matthews also alleges he was "unlawfully stopped and seized" in June 2005 by Officer Joseph Redmond, who searched a paper bag he was carrying. The bag contained only cake, but Matthews was given a summons for disorderly conduct.

The Civilian Complaint Review Board substantiated allegations that the officers abused their authority, Hoffner said.

PBA President Patrick Lynch said Matthews knows how to play the legal system to his advantage.

"What they do is not much better than sticking up the city's coffers at gunpoint," Lynch said.

jmarzulli@nydailynews.com