– Long Island man issued summons for laughing too loud in his own home (New York Post, March 6, 2013):
There’s no pursuit of happiness for this Long Island man — local cops busted him for laughing too loudly in his own home.
Robert Schiavelli, 42, was recently slapped with two “absurd” summonses because his next-door neighbor complained that he could hear his hearty guffaws from across the driveway.
“I didn’t know it was a crime to laugh out a window,” said Schiavelli, who is considered disabled because he has frequent seizures and suffers from neurological impairments.
Schiavelli was chortling because he says his neighbor often taunts him due to his disability — and his best defense is to laugh him off.
But a detective responded to the Rockville Centre neighbor’s complaints and wrote up two tickets for “disturbing the peace” at 6 p.m. on Feb. 12 and 13.
Each summons carried a $250 fine or 15 days in jail.
“It’s absurd,” lawyer Andrew Campanelli said. “My client faces 30 days in jail for laughing.”
Schiavelli, who lives with his mother, was charged with acting “in such a manner as to annoy, disturb, interfere with, obstruct, or be offensive to others.”
“The last time I checked, it was not a crime to laugh — except in Rockville Centre,’’ Campanelli said.
At Schiavelli’s arraignment yesterday, local Judge William Croutier said he “was not so inclined” to dismiss the charges.
When the judge asked why police were called, Campanelli said, “My client is a bit of a gentle giant. The way he responds [to his neighbor] is to laugh.”
“I will never let him take a plea on this,” a fuming Campanelli added after court.
A return date hasn’t been set.
The tickets stem from a years-long feud between Schiavelli and his mother, Suzanne, and next-door neighbor Daniel O’Hanian.
O’Hanian regularly taunts and ridicules Schiavelli about his disability, the mother and son allege.
“He tries to intimidate Robert” by calling him “a retard’’ and other names, said Suzanne, 65.
After years of the alleged treatment, Suzanne said her son “has learned to laugh at him.”
The day the summonses were written, “I was making dinner. Our neighbor was in the driveway wiping off his car and sneering at Robert” while he was inside the house, Suzanne explained.
As usual, Schiavelli addressed O’Hanian’s alleged glares with a good chuckle.
“What else are you supposed to do when someone calls you a retard?” asked Schiavelli, who graduated from high school as a special-education student.
O’Hanian’s wife, Virginia, defended the summonses, saying, “The police investigated and found there was cause. I think the police can answer all your questions. I think the police did what they thought was best.”
Her husband, an engineer, didn’t respond to requests for comment.