The sound of one man's cackles in his New York City home is no laughing matter to his neighbor. Robert Schiavelli of Long Island was issued two court summonses for disturbing the peace after his neighbor complained of hearing Schiavelli's loud laughter from across the driveway, CBS New York reported. Think that sounds absurd? A judge doesn't: At Schiavelli's arraignment Tuesday, a judge refused to throw out the charges. Schiavelli faces 30 days in jail and $500 in fines for the offenses.
"I didn't know it was a crime to laugh out a window," Schiavelli told the New York Post. Schiavelli has neurological disorders and frequent seizures and claims that his neighbor, Daniel O'Hainan, often makes fun of him because of these. Schiavelli said that he has learned to deal with the taunting by laughing it off. So one day, O'Hainan was staring at Schiavelli from his driveway, Schiavelli said, and he laughed at him from the window. That's when the neighbor allegedly called police.
Authorities came to Schiavelli's house on Feb. 12 and 13, issuing him tickets saying that he was acting "in such a manner as to annoy, disturb, interfere with, obstruct, or be offensive to others," according to the Post. "It's absurd," said Schiavelli's attorney, Andrew Campanelli. "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." Rockville Centre is the Long Island town where Schiavelli lives.
While Schiavelli paints himself as the taunted one, some neighbors told a very different story. People in the neighborhood who declined to give their names told NBC New York that Schiavelli bullies elderly residents and children in the neighborhood. The TV station also reported that Schiavelli and his mother, Suzanne, with whom he lives, have been in a feud with neighbor O'Hainan for decades. Police have been called to the Schiavellis' house nearly 30 times during that time, according to NBC New York.
"It's given Robert nightmares," Suzanne Schiavelli said of her son's court summonses. "But I will fight this, to the federal court and the Supreme Court, if necessary." O'Hainan's wife, Virginia, told the Post: "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." Daniel O'Hainan has not responded to media requests for comment.