COURTDALE — A Wyoming Valley West School Board member was cited by police in October for defiant trespass after he allegedly took vegetables from a neighbor’s garden.
It came to light Wednesday that board member Thomas Pieczynski Sr., 63, of Courtdale, pleaded guilty to defiant trespass on Oct. 18. Courtdale police cited Pieczynski on Oct. 9. for the offense that occurred on Sept. 12, according to court documents accessible online.
Courtdale police said Pieczynski’s neighbor, Sam Castellino, of Cooper Street, filed a complaint stating he suspected Pieczynski had been stealing vegetables from his garden. Castellino set up a camera and captured footage that clearly showed it was Pieczynski, police said.
However, Castellino said he didn’t want Pieczynski charged with theft, only with trespass, police said.
Pieczynski said on Wednesday that he took the vegetables, but “I didn’t do it illegally. When he moved in, he put this big gigantic garden in. He offered, ‘Help yourself whenever you want.’ I don’t know why he didn’t come to me. I didn’t know I was trespassing.”
An online court document search revealed that Pieczynski also was found guilty of disorderly conduct — engaged in fighting — in August 2012 for an incident that occurred on June 13, 2012, in Kingston Township.
The documents do not provide details of the incidents, and the district court office where the citation was filed had already closed for the day when the news of a citation surfaced. Officials with Kingston Township police could not provide details Wednesday night.
Pieczynski said the incident occurred when he was trapped in a development where a work crew had a road blocked off for an hour. He said there should have been signs posted indicating that drivers who entered might not be able to exit, and he got into an argument about the situation.
“The whole thing is being blown out of proportion,” Pieczynski said.
Pieczynski spoke with a reporter by phone after Wednesday night’s school board meeting, which he did not attend. He said his daughter, who is out of state, was just diagnosed with a medical condition, which his family was having a difficult time dealing with.
School Board President Gordon Dussinger said Pieczynski was at an executive session before the meeting, but he received a phone call and left the session early for what he described as “a family emergency.”
Dussinger declined to comment on the citations, other than to say he was surprised to hear about them. He said he knows and likes Pieczynski and has always considered him “a heck of a good guy.”
The incident with the neighbor’s vegetables was brought up late Wednesday afternoon on Steve Corbett’s call-in talk show on WILK-FM.