SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
COUNTY OF KINGS
JOHN A. ARETAKIS, REV. ROBERT M.
HOATSON, MARK LYMAN, and JOHN DOE,
BISHOP NICHOLAS DI MARZIO and THE ROMAN
CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF BROOKLYN, NEW YORK,
John A. Aretakis, pro se; Rev. Robert M. Hoatson, pro se; Mark Lyman,
pro se; and John Doe, pro se, aver to the following as and for a complaint against the
1. This complaint seeks both equitable and monetary relief.
2. Plaintiff Pro Se John A. Aretakis is at all relevant times a citizen of
the State and County of New York and resides at 354 East 54th Street, New York, New
3. Plaintiff Pro Se Rev. Robert M. Hoatson is at all relevant times a
citizen of the State of New Jersey and resides at 46 Morris Road, West Orange, New
4. Plaintiff Pro Se Mark Lyman is at all relevant times herein a
citizen of the County of Saratoga in the State of New York and resides at 32 Colonial
Drive, Stillwater, New York, 12170.
5. Plaintiff Pro Se John Doe is a parishioner of the Brooklyn Diocese
and resident of the County of Kings in the State of New York.
6. The defendant, Bishop Nicholas Di Marzio, is the Roman Catholic
Bishop of Brooklyn, New York, with offices and/or residence at 75 Greene Avenue,
Brooklyn, New York, 11202, and with a principal place of business in Kings County,
7. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn is a business with
offices at 75 Greene Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, 11202, and a principal place of
business in Kings County, New York, and is one of eight Catholic dioceses of and in the
State of New York.
8. Defendant Bishop Nicholas Di Marzio and defendant Diocese of
Brooklyn are holders of a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt number and certification upon
information and belief. Thousands of Brooklyn diocesan employees and volunteers use
the Diocese of Brooklyn’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt certificate and number on a daily basis
to exempt them from paying sales tax and other fees that otherwise would be going to the
State and City of New York. It is believed this status allows these defendants to receive
tax exempt contributions and to not have contributions taxed, and the defendants do not
pay other taxes due to their tax-exempt charitable status. In return, tax exempt
institutions such as the Brooklyn Diocese must comply with all laws and rules established
by State and federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service.
9. Vito Lopez is a member of the New York State Assembly and has
a principal place of business at 434 South 5th Street, Brooklyn, New York, 11211. The
defendant Lopez is an employee of the State of New York, and also has a duty to comply
with State and federal law while in office and while campaigning and running for office,
and a duty not to violate or to conspire with any entity or third party to violate State and
federal laws, and has a duty to act and vote independently and for the good of citizens of
the State of New York, and not compromise his high office for private benefit.
10. Plaintiffs have standing to bring this action since plaintiff John A.
Aretakis is a citizen of New York State and plaintiff Rev. Robert M. Hoatson is a
Catholic priest who resided in New York State for twenty-five years and has worked with
defendant Di Marzio, and the plaintiff John Doe is a parishioner of the Brooklyn Diocese.
11. During the New York State and New York City public elections of
2009, culminating on November 3, 2009, Election Day, including but not limited to
October 31, 2009, and November 1, 2009, Bishop Nicholas Di Marzio publicly
campaigned and did publicly campaign for certain candidates in Brooklyn, New York in
violation of New York State and federal law. All candidates upon information and belief
were part of the slate of candidates of Assemblyman Vito Lopez, and were done for and
with the aid and cooperation of Vito Lopez.
12. Bishop Nicholas Di Marzio and the Brooklyn Diocese used the
public airwaves and technological equipment and procedures (“robocalling”) to urge
voters to vote for candidates aligned with and supportive of Vito Lopez and/or anyone
Lopez endorsed for public office. This was done by using the property and/or assets of
the Diocese as a reward to defendant Lopez as and for a quid pro quo in exchange for
help with legislation favorable to the Catholic Church and Diocese of Brooklyn. Bishop
Di Marzio used the telephone lines during a campaign as part of a quid pro quo and/or to
pay back Mr. Lopez for:
a. conspiring with defendant Di Marzio in the sale and/or trade of
property in the County of Kings which benefited both men and the Brooklyn Diocese;
b. strategically opposing the passage of legislation
pending in the New York State legislature that would assist childhood victims of sexual
abuse in receiving justice. Defendants Di Marzio and Lopez joined in submitting an
opposing bill that deliberately protected Di Marzio and his diocese and neglected
childhood victims of sexual abuse.
13. This conspiracy and quid pro quo between a public official and a
private religious organization was accomplished to help the Catholic Church and to help
the Church maintain its assets and save millions of dollars, and to attempt to benefit the
defendant Lopez politically and monetarily.
14. Vito Lopez is, upon information and belief, a member of the
Roman Catholic Church and Diocese of Brooklyn upon information and belief, and a
public pro-abortion and pro same-sex marriage elected representative of the State, in
violation of Catholic teachings and public pronouncements. Despite this, Defendant Di
Marzio campaigned in favor of and to help defendant Lopez’s candidates, upon
information and belief, in order to satisfy a quid pro quo and to pay back defendant
Lopez for “real estate” deals which financially benefited both parties and their
businesses, and for Lopez’s work in assiduously attempting to defeat legislation in New
York State that would give childhood victims of sexual abuse their day in court, thus
keeping millions of prospective “settlement dollars” in the coffers of the Diocese of
15. During October and November, 2009, Bishop Nicholas Di Marzio
used telephonic equipment to make calls on behalf of the plaintiff Diocese and the
Catholic Church and Vito Lopez to residents of Vito Lopez’s district and/or
neighborhood and/or Borough to urge and persuade them to vote for the “Lopez
candidates” and to persuade voters to select anyone endorsed by Lopez.
16. These actions are in direct violation of New York State and federal
law prohibiting public endorsements of or campaigning for candidates for public office,
and “exchange of favors to violate the law” was conducted as “quid pro quo” and in a
conspiracy with each other.
17. The use of religion and religious beliefs in order to manipulate or
influence voters is contrary to the Constitution and the foundation of the laws the United
States was founded on.
18. According to state and federal laws regarding tax-exempt
organizations, charitable organizations and their principals are not allowed to participate
in campaigns for public office. Tax-exempt organizations may not endorse or oppose
candidates for public office. According to the Internal Revenue Service, a tax exempt
501 (c) 3 organization “does not participate in, or intervene in …any political campaign
on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”
19. Upon information and belief, tax-exempt organizations, such as the
Diocese of Brooklyn and defendant Di Marzio, may not in any way involve themselves
or their churches in directly assisting or opposing candidates for office. Bishop Nicholas
Di Marzio violated the laws of the State of New York and the United States of America
by engaging in overt political activity and/or inserting himself and his diocese into the
campaign(s) of candidates within the geographical boundaries of his diocese.
20. Defendant Bishop Nicholas Di Marzio did engage in overt political
activity and/or inserted himself and his church into the November 3, 2009 New York City
and State election campaign with the aid of defendant Vito Lopez and in conspiracy with
21. The defendant Di Marzio acted in this manner, using his title and
position within the Church, and using his status as a member of a tax exempt
organization. During the telephone calls (robocalls), the defendant Di Marzio used his
title and position with the Catholic Church and Diocese of Brooklyn in an intentional
effort at manipulating and influencing voters.
22. Upon information and belief, the defendant Di Marzio acted in this
manner at the urging and assistance of defendant Lopez.
23. The laws about participating in political campaigns are restrictive,
and Bishop Di Marzio and the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, violated the laws that do
not allow “participation” in campaigns.
24. Bishop Nicholas Di Marzio violated the tax laws by using his and
his diocese’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status to “campaign” in a civil election, in direct
violation of the laws prohibiting such actions.
25. The State of New York uses and spends hundreds of millions of
dollars to support and subsidize the Catholic Church and its agencies including, but not
limited to, Catholic Charities, through the Church’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
26. The plaintiffs and taxpayers of New York State have been
27. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
dictates that there shall be a separation of Church and State. The defendants Di Marzio
and Lopez conspired to violate Internal Revenue Service laws and the Constitutional
separation of Church and State in an intentional attempt to affect and influence the
outcome of the November 3, 2009 election.
28. Upon information and belief, the New York State Attorney
General is charged with regulating non-profit organizations, but Attorney General
Andrew Cuomo has a conflict of interest in or a fear of commencing an investigation of
his own church and its non-profit organization(s).
29. Rather than acting for the public good and/or for the benefit of his
constituents, the defendant Lopez has acted on behalf of his own private, personal and
financial interests and in a manner to attempt to benefit himself and his confederates
30. Equitable and immediate relief is required and asked for in this
Complaint to remedy and prevent the actions of these defendants.
AS AND FOR A FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION
31. Plaintiffs repeat and reallege all of the allegations set forth herein.
32. This cause of action is against all of the defendants jointly and
severally for a conspiracy to violate the First Amendment, and the provisions of the
Internal Revenue Code which proximately have cost the plaintiffs and taxpayers millions
if not billions of dollars, and to have this Court order that the defendants cease and desist
from these illegal or improper actions.
33. The defendant Diocese has been violating the provisions of State
and federal law for years in a surreptitious manner, but the recent acts of the defendant Di
Marzio have clearly and unequivocally established that the defendants have violated
these laws, causing the plaintiffs, taxpayers, and the United States damages.
34. By receiving the benefits of the tax exempt status as a non-profit,
but by violating the terms and conditions of a non-profit organization, the defendant
Diocese has the obligation to lose its status and to pay taxes or income and contributions,
and for contributors to its organization to lose their deductions.
35. The defendant Lopez, despite having a prohibition on
compromising his office, and a strict prohibition on his behalf against direct political
activity by a charitable and non-profit tax exempt organization, engaged in a quid pro quo
and conspiracy with defendants Di Marzio and the Diocese of Brooklyn by giving
“special favors” to the Catholic Church with regards to real estate transactions and
helping to defeat legislation that would directly benefit the defendant Diocese. In
exchange, and as and for a quid pro quo, the defendants Di Marzio and the Diocese
pledged to campaign for Lopez and those he is mentoring, promoting and endorsing.
36. As an example of the defendants’ attempt to avoid detection and
prosecution, the defendants acted in this illegal manner on the eve of an election, and on
the weekend before the election.
37. The defendants conspired to deliver illegal favors to each other,
compromising their offices and public positions, and engaging in a theft of honest
services. The defendants have violated public policy and the public good.
38. Defendants Di Marzio and Diocese conspired with Assemblyman
Vito Lopez to exchange, sell, or control property in Brooklyn that was targeted for
construction of housing for the poor by firing a Catholic priest who “pastored” a large
Catholic parish and was the leader of a coalition to build affordable housing. He was
removed from office by the defendants Di Marzio and the Diocese in order to support the
aims, causes, and agenda of defendant Lopez. Lopez, in turn, sponsored absurd and
discarded legislation in the State legislature that would have protected the defendants Di
Marzio and Diocese from paying out large sums of money in civil settlements over clergy
sexual abuse cases.
39. The conspiracy has proximately caused the plaintiffs and the
public and community damages, and warrants legitimate and appropriate relief.
AS AND FOR A SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION
40. The plaintiffs repeat and reallege all of the allegations set forth
41. This cause of action is against the defendants jointly and severally
seeking appropriate equitable relief in that the defendant Diocese should lose its tax
exempt status and should be compelled to pay taxes and income taxes and lose its ability
for contributors to claim a tax exemption.
42. By making specific recorded messages on behalf of a politician,
defendant Di Marzio has violated laws limiting political activity and advocacy by non-
profit organizations. Defendant Di Marzio identified himself, his position and/or title
with the Church in clear violation of State and federal laws.
43. When the CEO of a non-profit organization, who knows or should
know that it is illegal to engage in partisan campaigning in any election (as is the case
with defendant Di Marzio), breaks the law and actively endorses candidates of a certain
party or slate, the organization must lose its tax exempt status or be required to
retroactively pay taxes.
44. The actions of the defendants Di Marzio and Diocese require that
the Catholic Church, and at least the Brooklyn Diocese, lose its tax-exempt status
immediately and be ordered to pay income and other appropriate taxes, including
retroactive taxes and penalties for its improper actions.
45. When the CEO of a non-profit organization, such as the defendant
Di Marzio, who knows or should know that it is illegal to engage in partisan campaigning
in any election, conspires in a “quid pro quo” formula with a politician and employee of
the State of New York (defendant Lopez) who has a formal “slate” of candidates and is
clear about whom he is endorsing, and then attempts to get certain people elected and
uses his Church authority and position to solicit and secure votes, it is a violation of the
law and the organization must be stripped of its tax-exempt status.
AS AND FOR A THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION
46. The plaintiffs repeat and reallege all of the allegations set forth
47. The actions of the three defendants are discriminatory, illegal, and
unconstitutional, and have caused damages.
48. Defendant Lopez has acted and acts in a discriminatory manner
against the constituents of his district and citizens of New York State, whom he is sworn
to serve and protect, by conspiring with a powerful institution in his district (the
Brooklyn Diocese and Bishop Nicholas Di Marzio) that is not allowed to directly act in
political campaigns, according to the laws of non-profit organizations and the Internal
49. Bishop Nicholas Di Marzio acted and acts in a discriminatory
manner against his constituents who are adversely affected by the conspiracy he entered
into with defendant Lopez to exchange, sell, or deal property, leaving many constituents
without affordable housing.
50. Defendant Lopez has acted and acts illegally by conspiring with
defendants Di Marzio and the Diocese to make “deals” with politicians as a quid pro quo
for receiving goods and services and campaigning for defendant Lopez’s candidates.
51. The actions of the defendants have resulted in and continue to
result in unfair and discriminatory behavior and actions as and toward the plaintiffs.
52. In an effort at avoiding laws, the defendant Di Marzio acted in
discriminatory, unconstitutional, and illegal manner.
AS AND FOR A FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION
53. The plaintiffs repeat and reallege all of the allegations set forth
54. The Catholic Church’s insertion into the homes and families of
citizens and voters in Kings County violates the First Amendment separation of Church
55. According to the Internal Revenue Code, 501(c) 3 churches and
Bishops are exempt from federal and State income taxes and are eligible to receive tax-
deductible contributions; in return, they may not participate in or interfere in circulating
the publishing of any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate
for public office. This is an absolute prohibition.
56. As part of a quid pro quo, the defendants each conspired to
compromise and violate the laws of the State of New York and the United States of
America in an effort to mutually benefit each of the parties.
57. The defendants’ actions have violated the First Amendment,
infringed on the religious or non-religious beliefs of the plaintiffs and others, and have
proximately caused damages.
AS AND FOR A FIFTH CAUSE OF ACTION
58. The plaintiffs repeat and reallege all of the allegations set forth
59. This cause of action is for injunctive relief in order to prevent the
continued illegal and/or improper actions or conspiracy of the defendants.
60. The defendants Di Marzio, Diocese, and Lopez are and have
become deeply intertwined in 2009. Defendant Lopez led a legislative effort to kill
legislation that would have given a one-year window to victims of sexual abuse by clergy
and others in which to file civil actions in order to hold their abusers civilly responsible.
61. Defendant Di Marzio, upon information and belief, was chosen by
the other bishops of New York State to organize and defeat the sex abuse legislation
because of the “quid pro quo” arrangement with defendant Lopez. In exchange for Lopez
derailing the sexual abuse legislation by introducing a poison pen bill that never had a
chance of becoming law, defendant Di Marzio promised Lopez access to “Catholic-
owned” property that he could use for his own purposes, and a promise of assistance in
62. Upon information and belief, the defendant Lopez is and has been
the significant and primary legislator who has advocated for and sponsored legislation
favorable to the defendant Diocese and the Catholic Church, and it is this example of a
quid pro quo that caused the direct and overt political activities of the defendant Di
63. Plaintiffs respectfully request this Court to grant injunctive relief,
ordering the defendants Di Marzio and Diocese to cease and desist in their campaigning
and any other political or quid pro quo activities associated with defendant Lopez, his
surrogates, and/or the election process.
64. The defendant Lopez has impermissibly partnered with an
established religion in an effort to benefit the defendant Lopez and this acts to shield and
protect the Catholic Church and its assets.
65. The actions of defendant Lopez have created a situation where the
State of New York has partnered with one established religion, which is discriminatory
toward other religions, and has harmed the plaintiffs.
66. The circumstances require immediacy and urgency.
67. The equities run in the favor of the plaintiffs.
68. The defendants are powerful entities and political persons and have
disproportionate power compared with the plaintiffs.
69. There is a substantial likelihood of success of the plaintiffs, and
severe prejudice and irreparable harm.
70. There are public policy concerns at issue that warrant the granting
of appropriate injunctive relief.
71. The defendants would not be prejudiced if the equitable relief were
72. If the Court does not prohibit or restrict this action or grant the
relief requested, the defendants will continue to violate State and federal laws at issue,
causing harm to the plaintiffs and the citizens of the State of New York.
73. If injunctive relief is not granted, the damage will have already
been done, and will continue into the future.
74. The defendants, upon information and belief, have acted in a
criminal manner and in a manner that infringes on the First Amendment and other well-
Wherefore, the plaintiffs respectfully request that injunctive and other
such appropriate relief be granted against the defendants.
Dated: December 16, 2009
Robert M. Hoatson
Pro Se Plaintiff
46 Morris Road
West Orange, New Jersey 07052
John A. Aretakis
Pro Se Plaintiff
353 East 54th Street
New York, New York 10022
Pro Se Plaintiff
32 Colonial Drive
Stillwater, New York 12170
Pro Se Plaintiff
Cc: New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo