A Rockville Centre man is facing up to 30 days in jail after a neighbor called police to complain he was laughing too loudly, police confirmed Wednesday.
Rockville Centre police officers responded to the home of 42-year-old Robert Schiavelli around 6 p.m. on Feb. 12 after a neighbor called 911 to report the man was laughing out of the window of his home. When the officers arrived at Schiavelli’s house, they issued him a ticket for disturbing the peace. The next day, police were back at Schiavelli’s home and again issued him a ticket for laughing loudly.
In an interview with the New York Post, Schiavelli said that he suffers from frequent seizures and neurological impairments and “his neighbor often taunts him due to his disability,” additing that his best defense is “to laugh him off.” However, police say Schiavelli crossed the line into criminal action by disturbing the peace with his loud chuckles. Each summons carries a penalty of $250 or 15 days in jail.
“It’s absurd,” Schiavelli’s attorney Andrew Campanelli told the Post. “My client faces 30 days in jail for laughing.” The 42-year-old lives with his mother in a private home about 20 feet from the neighbor who filed the complaint. Two driveways separate the homes. Schiavelli’s mother told reporters that her family has a long standing feud with their neighbor, because the man often calls her son “a retard.”
Neighbor Daniel O’Hanion, the man who called police to file the complaint, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
In a statement, Rockville Centre police defended the decision to issue the tickets, saying “The summonses were issued after the Rockville Centre Police received multiple complaints and issued several warnings about an ongoing pattern of disturbing the peace. On two occasions, police actually observed this individual creating a disturbance directed at neighbors and in violation of local law. The matter is currently before a Village Judge and would inappropriate to comment further on the evidence."
A Village Court judge declined to dismiss the charges during a court appearance on Tuesday. Schiavelli is planning to vigorously fight the tickets in court, his attorney said.