Lawyers for the Town of North Hempstead will appear in a state appellate court Thursday to argue an unusual criminal case against a man charged with "harboring" wild pigeons.
Kenneth Iacono of Williston Park was visiting his parents in New Hyde Park in 2008, his lawyer said, when a town code inspector watching from a neighbor's yard cited him for "maintaining, feeding or harboring pigeons."
Iacono was convicted in District Court in 2011 of a misdemeanor violation of town code against feeding and harboring pigeons, and received a $50 fine in January 2012.
Iacono argued during the trial that he neither fed nor harbored the birds, which happened to be eating seed that fell from a feeder in his elderly parents' yard, according to his appellate brief.
Iacono's parents keep a feeder in the yard to attract all kinds of birds, said Andrew Campanelli, Iacono's lawyer. "They put up bird feeders so they can hear birds chirp," he said. "How would you stop a pigeon from coming?"
But neighbor William Newsome, who filed the original complaint with the town, said the pigeon population next door swelled to more than 100 birds because of Iacono's feeding, and that the birds' droppings were a nuisance.
"I haven't used my deck for eight years," said Newsome, who alleged Kenneth Iacono fed the pigeons three times a day by throwing seed on the ground.
At trial in August, 2011, Campanelli argued that there was "absolutely no evidence presented which showed that [Iacono] . . . was the one who provided the birdseed."
Citing the trial transcript, Iacono's brief says town code inspector Mark Edwards, "explicitly testified that he did not see coops or any other shelters, nor did he see [Iacono] undertake any efforts to shelter the pigeons. He testified that he went into a neighbor's yard and saw bird food on the patio and birds eating." Asked if he saw Iacono feeding pigeons, Edwards answered, "I did not," according to the papers.
Iacono could not be reached for comment, and town officials declined to discuss the case. "It is the town's policy not to comment on ongoing litigation," said North Hempstead spokesman Collin Nash.
Campanelli said the case follows a trend in which municipalities pursue code violations in criminal court in an effort to "extract the maximum amount of money" from residents. Campanelli previously defended a man accused by a neighbor of laughing too loudly. The case was thrown out, he said.
Campanelli noted that the conviction leaves Iacono with a criminal record. "If he applies for a job, he has to list it," Campanelli said.
Iacono's appeal is scheduled to be heard before in state Supreme Court Appellate Term in Central Islip.