A 46-year-old grandmother said Seymour police ransacked her house and arrested her on trumped up charges during a drug raid last week.
“I understand there are drugs (in the Valley), and that it’s a problem in the Valley. But don’t target me. Don’t target my family because you have nothing better to do,” Kimberly Pignataro said Tuesday.
Pignataro, a school bus driver, lives in the house at 48 Knorr Ave. with her large family, which includes several children and four young grandchildren.
She said the single-family home is the hub for her sprawling family — where they often host parties for the young children.
Pignataro believes the police department “targeted” her family because she once complained about a traffic stop. In addition, her teenage son was arrested several years ago, she said.
Pignataro said she doesn’t do drugs, and doesn’t believe that kind of activity is taking place in her home.
However, Seymour police tell a very different story.
“During the past several weeks, Seymour police officers had received information that illegal drugs were possibly being sold at the residence located on Knorr Avenue,” Lt. Paul Satkowski said in a press release issued Tuesday (Feb. 28).
The information police received triggered an investigation and police were able to corroborate what they were told, Satkowski said.
Police obtained a search warrant to raid Pignataro’s house, which they did Thursday, Feb. 23. A copy of the warrant was not available in Superior Court in Derby Tuesday.
Several officers and two police dogs searched the home at about 4:30 p.m. Feb. 23. There were 11 people in the home during the search, Pignataro said.
The search turned up the following items, according to Satkowski’s press release and a police report on file at Superior Court in Derby:
- More than a half ounce of marijuana
- Digital scales
- Packaging materials
- Drug paraphernalia, including a homemade bong made out of a 32-ounce Powerade bottle
- Two handguns
- Two rifles
- “Other items of evidence connected to drug activity”
Pignataro said the scales were her former husband’s, who used them for a medical ailment.
As for the “packaging materials” found in her room — Pignataro said it was a small plastic bag she stored jewelry in after she had it appraised.
Pignataro said during the raid she directed the police to where the family stored its guns in a locked safe. The two rifles are her fiancé‘s, she said. No weapons charges were issued after the search.
Police said the search also allegedly revealed “deplorable” living conditions in the house — where five children and several adults live.
Officers said they found urine inside a child’s bath tub, dog feces scattered throughout the residence and other unsanitary conditions.
Pignataro said the dog feces found in the house was a result of her son’s dog being scared by the police officers.
“My son has a boxer mix. When they walked downstairs, they scared the dog and he pooped,” Pignataro said. “One officer walked through it. They literally scared the crap out of (the dog),” she said.
Seymour police called the Department of Children and Families. Two of the children were removed from the house, according to the press release.
“Several” dogs were also removed by the Seymour Animal Control Officer.
Pignataro said the children have since been returned to their parents.
Pignataro disputes much of what police say happened Feb. 23. Pignataro also said she plans to file a complaint against the police department.
“This is the kind of stuff that makes people not trust police,” she said.
Pignataro claims the Seymour officers broke her bedroom door — even though she gave them a key. She claims they destroyed her home, then called DCF claiming the conditions were deplorable.
“I’m telling you they trashed it. They trashed it,” she said, citing ripped posters, items strewn about, a broken door and a broken key to a safe.
Pignataro also says the police roughed up her 17-year-old son while they were searching the home.
“They shoved his face against the ground and busted his lip,” Pignataro said.
Satkowski did not immediately respond to a request for response to Pignataro’s claims.
“This is about making Seymour police accountable for their bull crap,” Pignataro said. “They feel they can do whatever they want because they’re police. You know what, it’s not acceptable.”
The following people who lived at the home were charged, according to the press release:
- Roberto Thompson, 23, charged with risk of injury to a minor, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia.
- Crystal Pignataro, 20, charged with risk of injury to a minor, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia.
- Corey Zenko, 22, charged with risk of injury to a minor, possession of drug paraphernalia.
- Joshua Gay, 22, issued an infraction for possession of drug paraphernalia.
- Kimberly Pignataro, 46, issued an infraction for possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
- A 17-year-old male, whose name was not released because of his age, was issued an infraction for possession of drug paraphernalia.
The three who were issued infractions will have to pay a fine, according to the press release.
Police held Thompson in lieu of $75,000 bond, and held Crystal Pignataro and Zenko on $50,000 bonds, though a judge lowered those amounts when the three were arraigned in Superior Court in Derby Friday (Feb. 24).
Crystal Pignataro was released from custody on a written promise to appear in court, and Thompson and Zenko posted bonds of $20,000 and $1,000, respectively. All three are scheduled to appear in court March 20. In the meantime, a judge ordered them not to possess any drugs or weapons and to cooperate with DCF.
Staff writer Ethan Fry contributed to this report.