An Oceanside resident in a dispute with Hempstead Town officials over their seizure of the single-engine airplane parked in his driveway threatened the town supervisor and a code enforcement officer, Nassau County police said Wednesday.
Harold Guretzky, 70, of Yale Street, was arraigned Wednesday on two counts of misdemeanor aggravated harassment after telling two town employees that he had a crossbow and knew how to use it, police said. He made a telephone call to Supervisor Anthony Santino’s office at about 3 p.m. Monday and “verbally threatened” two town employees.
Those being threatened were identified at Guretzky’s arraignment as Santino and Chief Code Enforcement Officer Roy Gunther. Both were granted temporary restraining orders against Guretzky, who had been arrested Tuesday night.
Guretzky entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment at First District Court in Hempstead. Bond was set at $5,000 or $2,500 cash. He was ordered to return to court May 4 and surrender all of his weapons.
Prosecutors said in court that Guretzky said in the phone call that “he has good aim” with his crossbow and would defend himself if anyone came after his property.
Town officials declined to comment about the phone calls.
Guretzky’s Garden City-based attorney Marc Ialenti said Guretzky was harmless and should be released.
“The town is literally harassing him about his airplane,” Ialenti said in court. “He didn’t show up there with a crossbow. He was an angry old man calling to complain.”
Hempstead Town crews last Thursday removed the plane after Guretzky was cited for repeated violations of town codes. The wings of the plane were removed and its body taken to the town’s storage facility after the Hempstead Building Department earlier this month cited “the potential danger presented by the storage of a plane in a residential neighborhood.”
Guretzky has made repeated statements to Newsday about defending his property from town officials. He said last week that he would stop anyone who tried to take his plane or do everything he could to get it back.
Town officials have been seeking to remove the plane since July, after neighbors’ complaints about the 24-foot-long Cessna and radio towers Guretzky attached atop his home. Town officials also cited the radio towers as unsafe. Guretzky was told to remove the plane by April 19 or face seizure by the town and removal of a radio tower. Town officials said Guretzky was served with several notices of violation, which were posted on his home and sent by certified mail, warning of the possible removal.
The town’s commissioner of engineering’s office cited high winds earlier this month that the report said lifted the plane 3 feet off the ground while it was tied down. The storm also toppled one of the radio towers.
The town filed a complaint April 5 in Nassau County District Court to remove the plane, citing violations for unlawful storage of an airplane without a permit and having an unauthorized radio tower. A hearing has been rescheduled for May 12.
Town officials said they were able to seize the plane without a court order because it posed an immediate danger of “uplifting, falling, collapsing or causing damage and injury to the occupants and/or adjacent property,” as stated in the engineering report.
With Gary Dymski