Local Dem arrested after Republican legislator accuses him of harassing phone call
County Legislator Jay Grasso says he felt threatened by online postings, and one phone call, from a member of the County Democratic Committee and so he called State Police.
Yesterday, 30-year-old Chris Charvella -- a former candidate for the legislature himself and a frequent contributor to The Batavian -- was arrested and charged with aggravated harassment, 2nd, a misdemeanor.
Today, Grasso said that he felt Charvella had gone too far with some of his postings, but when Jay got a call from his wife, who said she felt fearful after a phone call from Charvella, he couldn't just laugh it off.
"I don't view it as a joke once you call my wife and upset my wife," Grasso said. "When you call my house and threaten my wife, that's going too far in local politics."
The complaint against Charvella reads:
On the aforementioned date, time and place, said defendant did contact the residence of Jerome J. Grasso by leaving a message. The message stated "Hey, Jerome, it's Chris Charvella, thanks for reading my blog."
The complaint is signed by Jay Grasso.
The alleged message is the same one Charvella said he left in a blog item about troopers showing up at his house that he posted on his own website yesterday at 7:55 a.m., more than 24 hours before his arrest.
Today, Charvella, who lost a legislative race to Republican Hollis Upson in 2009, made a two-sentence statement to The Batavian: "You can decide whether or not there is something illegal in there. I obviously don't think so."
The genesis of this particular dispute goes back to just a few days before the Nov. 2 election. Charvella wrote in a blog post that he had shown up to work that morning and found a lawn sign for Republican Mike Ranzenhofer's campaign on his employer's property. He speculated that Grasso had left the sign, giving him the alias, "Sharome Glasshole."
Charvella concluded his post thusly:
"So, to the Genesee County 'sign guy' and the Ranzenhofer campaign: The next time I see an unauthorized sign go up in front of a commercial property, I'm going to harvest the damn thing, march straight down to Republican headquarters and cram it up the first ass I see."
The next day, according to another blog post by Charvella, a Ranzenhofer sign was left in his front yard with a message, "Courtesy of Sharome Glasshole."
It was that message, according to Charvella, that prompted the phone message on Glasso's home phone.
In that post, Charvella raised a number of allegations about Grasso, accusing him of not having a job to pay his bills, having a house go into foreclosure and assaulting a subject while a Sheriff's deputy.
Those are allegations Grasso has heard before and he said today that he can prove he was the victim of identify theft and he is fully prepared for local Democrats to try and use those allegations against him.
Charvella's post concludes with a picture of an Ewok (of "Star Wars" movie fame) and the caption "Prepare Your Anus."
That was a remark that Grasso said he found threatening, adding that the alleged threats have no place in local politics.
"This is local," Grasso said. "We all know each other. We don't need this partisanship. Hopefully, (this case) will cause people to reflect and step back from the politics of destruction."
Photo: File photo of Charvella.