Long Island resident Robert Schiavelli has what can only be described as a unique laugh, which so bothered his neighbor that the man called the police. Now Schiavelli is facing $500 in fines or a month in jail. NBC's Andrea Canning reports.
Robert Schiavelli, 42, has been issued a pair of tickets by police for disturbing the peace after next-door neighbor Daniel O’Hanian called the police because he said Schiavelli was laughing too loud out his window.
A detective wrote up two tickets for “disturbing the peace’’ on Feb. 12 and 13 for Schiavelli, who was born with a neurological impairment, according to his parents. Schiavelli lives at home with his parents in Rockville Centre on Long Island.
The complaint for Schiavelli’s laughing was the latest in an ongoing dispute between the neighbors that Schiavelli’s mother, Suzanne, said began over renovations and escalated when O’Hanian began to regularly make fun of Schiavelli for his neurological condition.
“Well, you know if they don’t like something, they start eyeballing us, or (O’Hanian) gives (Schiavelli) a malevolent stare,’’ Suzanne told TODAY Thursday. “He graduated to calling Robert names, and mocking the way he walks.’’
"I was looking out the window,'' Schiavelli told TODAY. "I see him pull in the driveway. He gets out over there by the curb ... and then he just starts staring at me. So I just don't say anything. I just start laughing at him."
O’Hanian could not be reached by NBC for comment, but his wife told the New York Post that “the police investigated and found there was cause … I think the police did what they thought was best.’’
Schiavelli, who has a high-pitched laugh that he often does out the window in response to the alleged taunts by O’Hanian, has been issued several prior warnings for his behavior, according to Rockville Centre police.
“On two occasions, police actually observed this individual creating a disturbance directed at neighbors and in violation of local law,’’ the Rockville Centre police said in a statement to NBC.
He faces a total fine of $500 or a month in jail if convicted for the two disturbing-the-peace violations. At an arraignment earlier this week, the judge declined to dismiss the case, but Schiavelli’s lawyer said he will continue to fight the fines. Legal expert Karen DeSoto believes jail time is not likely for Schiavelli.
“Technically you could go to jail for disturbing the peace, but as a former prosecutor and public defender, I can tell you that I never put anyone in jail for laughing or disturbing the peace or being loud,’’ DeSoto told TODAY. “It’s usually just a small fine.’’