United States District Court, D. Maryland
ANTHONY J. MARCANTONI, #20283-017 Plaintiff
POLICE COMMISSIONER FREDERICK H. BEALEFELD, III, STATE'S ATTORNEY GREGG L. BERNSTEIN, DETECTIVE STEVEN SODD, DETECTIVE CHRISTOPHER TOLAND,  Defendants
Xinis United States District Judge.
Anthony J. Marcantoni, an inmate at the Federal Prison Camp
in Jesup, Georgia, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute
and possess with intent to distribute marijuana and is
serving a ten-year prison term. See United States v.
Nicka, et al., Criminal No. RWT-10-777 (D. Md. 2010). In
this companion civil suit, Marcantoni asserts that law
enforcement who investigated his criminal case violated his
Fourth Amendment right to be free from warrantless searches
and seizures by using “Stingray” technology to
locate his cell phone within his home. ECF No. 1. This Court
initially dismissed the Complaint in its entirety as barred
pursuant to Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994)
because Marcantoni had not successfully challenged his guilty
plea in the underlying criminal case. ECF No. 3. The United
States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed,
holding that Heck did not bar those claims which did
not necessarily implicate the validity of the underlying
criminal conviction. ECF No. 14-1. Because Marcantoni's
claims asserting Fourth Amendment violations from the use of
the Stingray fell within this exception to Heck, the
Fourth Circuit reversed this Court's decisions as to
Defendants Toland, Sodd, Bernstein and Bealefeld, and
affirmed the dismissal of all claims against the Harris
Corporation (the Stingray manufacturer), and Steven Levin
(Marcantoni's defense attorney) for independent reasons.
See Marcantoni v. Bealefeld, et al., No. 18-6340
(4th Cir. August 16, 2018) (unpublished), ECF No. 14-1.
pending before the Court is Defendants Bealefield and
Bernstein's motions to dismiss. ECF Nos. 26, 37.
Marcantoni opposes both motions. The Court has reviewed the
pleadings and finds a hearing unnecessary. See Loc.
R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the following reasons, the
motions are granted.
gravamen of Marcantoni claims concern the constitutionality
of law enforcement's use of “Stingray”
technology to track his cell phone in his home, which led to
finding Marcantoni and other incriminating evidence that was
eventually used to prosecute him for federal drug crimes. In
this action, Marcantoni alleges that Bealefeld, as Chief of
the Baltimore City Police Department, and Bernstein, as the
Baltimore City State's Attorney, conspired to violate
Marcantoni's constitutional rights because each, on
behalf of the respective agencies, signed a non-disclosure
agreement with the Federal Bureau of Investigations
(“FBI”) on July 13, 2011 before acquiring the
Stingray technology. ECF No. 1-6, pp. 2-6. The
agreement's terms specifically prohibit disclosing Harris
as the supplier of the Stingray absent prior approval from
the FBI. Id. at p. 3.
Bealefeld argues that the Complaint should be dismissed
because the it sets forth no suggestion that he or the
Baltimore City Police Department played any role in
Marcantoni's investigation or arrest. Further, Bealefeld
correctly points out that Detectives Toland and Sodd were
members of the Baltimore County Police Department, not the
Baltimore City Police Department. Defendant Bernstein
contends dismissal is warranted because he played no part in
Marcantoni's investigation or arrest. Bernstein further
points out that the non-disclosure agreement was signed five
weeks after Marcantoni was indicted, and thus bears no
relevance to Marcantoni's civil action.
does not refute Defendants' arguments. Instead, he
maintains that the agreement affects “virtually every
American Citizen [who was] the ultimate victims” of
such activity, and thus the claims should proceed. ECF No.
42, p. 1; ECF No. 33, p. 3. Even when reading the Complaint
most charitably to Marcantoni, the claims as to Bealefeld and
Bernstein must fail.
Standard of Review
motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the sufficiency of the
Complaint. This Court accepts all well-pleaded allegations of
the complaint as true and draws all inferences in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff. Venkatraman v. REI Sys.,
Inc., 417 F.3d 418, 420 (4th Cir. 2005) (citing
Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th
Cir. 1993)); Ibarra v. United States, 120 F.3d 472,
473 (4th Cir. 1997). “A formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). That
said, a complaint need not include “detailed factual
allegations” to survive a motion to dismiss.
Id. at 555. “Once a claim has been stated
adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts
consistent with the allegations in the complaint.”
Id. at 563.
survive a motion to dismiss, “a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009)
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim
has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “But
where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer
more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint
has alleged -- but it has not ‘show[n]' --
‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.'”
Id. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).
alleges that Bernstein and Bealefeld conspired with
themselves and others to violate his Fourth Amendment rights.
To survive challenge, the Complaint must allege facts
sufficient to demonstrate plausibly that Defendants agreed to
act in concert and that an overt act was committed in
furtherance of the conspiracy, which resulted in deprivation
of a constitutional right. See Hinkle v. City of
Clarksburg, 81 F.3d 416, 421 (4th Cir. 1996). Put
simply, the alleged conspiracy, as pleaded, must visit some
constitutional injury to the plaintiff. See Ballinger v.
N.C. Agric. Extension Serv., 815 F.2d 1001, 1006-07 (4th
fails to provide any factual basis to support a conspiracy
claim against Defendants Bealefeld and Bernstein. To be sure,
Bealefeld and Bernstein entered into a written
“agreement” involving the terms of acquiring the
Stingray technology. But even most broadly construed, that
agreement has nothing to do with Marcantoni's claims. The
individual detectives involved in Marcantoni's
investigation were employed by Baltimore County, not
Baltimore City; and nothing in the Complaint connects either
Bernstein or Bealefeld or their respective agencies to the
Marcantoni investigation. The claims, therefore, fail as a
matter of law.
in his response attempts to expand his Complaint to cover all
possible subjects of Stingray technology used as a result of
the agreement between Baltimore City Police, the State's
Attorney's Office and the FBI. ECF No. 42, p. 4. The
Court rejects this attempt. First, a plaintiff cannot amend
his complaint through pleadings. See Mathis v.
McDonough, No. ELH-13-2597, 2014 WL 3894133, at *25 (D.
Md. Aug. 7, 2014). Second, a pro se plaintiff cannot
represent anyone but himself. See Loc. R. 101.1(a)
(“Individuals who are parties in ...