COOPERSTOWN — A state judge has dismissed charges of aggravated harassment brought against Anthony Pacherille Sr. and his brother, Angelo David Pacherille, in connection with a web site that mocked the father of the youth Anthony Pacherille Jr. was accused of shooting in 2010.
The lawyer for the Pacherille bothers, Frank Policelli of Utica, hailed the decision handed down by Acting Supreme Court Judge Martin E. Smith as a victory for free speech.
Anthony Pacherille Jr, now 19, is serving an 11-year prison term for the shooting of Wesley Lippitt, then 17, outside the Cooperstown Village Police Station three years ago.
According to Anthony Pacherille Sr., the web site in question — www.coophallofshame.com — was subsequently started by his brother. The web site has frequently criticized family members and friends of Wesley Lippitt, including the youth’s father, Craig Lippitt, who signed a criminal complaint against the Pacherille brothers.
On the basis of that complaint, the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department arrested the two Pacherille brothers last November, accused them of being responsible for what the agency called “the creation and publication of the alarming, annoying and harassing post on the website.”
The site has also been highly critical of Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl, who prosecuted Anthony Pacherille Jr. in connection with the shooting, and County Judge Brian D. Burns, who had meted out the prison sentence to the former Cooperstown High School student.
Judge Smith, noting that the web site depicts Craig Lippitt as a stalker and bully and “implies he is a psychopath,” said the information it conveys is “not the sort of discourse one expects in a respectful, civilized society from reasonable adults.”
However, he added, the web site stops short of attempting to incite violence or other breaches of the peace.
He also opined that the web site “was not purposefully directed towards the complainant in a way that created a substantial privacy intrusion.”
The attorney for the Pacherille brothers, Frank Policelli of Utica, said of Smith: “He had the courage to follow the law. A lot of judges at that level don’t have the courage to follow the law.”
Muehl had recused himself from handling the harassment case against the Pacherille brothers, citing the fact Anthony Pacherille Sr. had signaled he planned to file a civil suit against him. The prosecution of the case was being overseen by the Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride.
Earlier this month, the state Appellate Division upheld Anthony Pacherille Jr.’s prison sentence. Policelli, who has also represented the younger Pacherille, said while he believes the state’s highest court would consider reviewing the decision, said his client “has no faith in the criminal justice system whatsoever” and has chosen not to submit further appeals.