Did you hear the one about…. Er, maybe as a courtesy we should top right there. You can never tell if Robert Schiavelli might be reading, and his loud laugh has already gotten him in enough trouble.
The New York Post reports that Schiavelli, who lives in Rockville Centre, on Long Island, was arraigned Tuesday on two counts of “disturbing the peace.” Each count carries a fine of $250 or 15 days in jail.
Schiavelli was slapped with summonses on successive nights in early February after a next-door neighbor, Daniel O’Hanian, complained about his noisy guffaws. Schiavelli’s lawyer, Andrew Campanelli, calls the charges “absurd,” adding,
My client faces 30 days in jail for laughing. The last time I checked, it was not a crime to laugh — except in Rockville Centre.
Actually, Schiavelli is not as innocent as it may sound at first blush. It’s not that he was watching a television program that tickled his fancy or reacting to a funny joke and has an abnormally loud laugh. Rather, he was trying to annoy his neighbor with whom he has a running feud. Schiavelli suffers from frequent seizures and neurological impairments — conditions that his neighbor cruelly taunts him about. He was attempting to settle the score by leaning out a window and shrieking as a form of “self-defense.”
The judge at Schiavelli’s hearing said he “was not inclined” to dismiss the charges. A return court date has not been set, but in the interim, Schiavelli should probably practice telling himself that “silence is golden.”
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