COOPERSTOWN — With Anthony Pacherille, Sr.’s latest grievance against the legal authorities who sent his teenage son to prison for shooting a black classmate, the accused Otsego County district attorney is saying enough is enough.
First, Pacherille, Sr. said the county court judge, Brian Burns, was wrong to punish Anthony Pacherille, Jr. so heavily in 2011. Then Pacherille, Sr. sued that same judge for having him arrested after approaching the judge’s home with plans to protest the 11-year sentence.
Now, Pacherille, Sr. is suing everyone else involved — from the Otsego County district attorney and Sheriff’s Office to the town of Otsego and the shooting victim’s father, Craig Lippitt — in a far-reaching alleged conspiracy plot to strangle Pacherille, Sr.’s right to free speech.
But District Attorney John Muehl denies “conspiring” with anyone to retaliate against Pacherille, Sr.’s Internet postings that ridiculed Muehl and Lippitt, whose son Wesley was shot by 16-year-old Pacherille, Jr. in April 2010.
Instead, Muehl said he’s never been bothered by what Pacherille, Sr. had to say about him, and today he believes Pacherille, Sr.’s latest gripes are falling on deaf ears. Muehl does admit, however, that he was “involved in the decision” to get a search warrant to seize Pacherille, Sr.’s home computers in 2011 based on his threats to make life miserable for the Lippitts.
Muehl said he later told Lippitt that he couldn’t get involved, though, because Pacherille, Sr. was suing him. Muehl then suggested that Lippitt contact the sheriff’s office, which ultimately filed charges.
“I think the community sees the Pacherilles for what they were, and I don’t think anybody takes the Pacherilles seriously anymore, or anything they say,” Muehl said. “I think the community has forgotten about the Pacherilles. It’s a distraction that I don’t need, and I have more important things to do than deal with these frivolous lawsuits.”
But the federal lawsuit isn’t “frivolous,” said Pacherille, Sr.’s attorney, Frank Policelli. And no matter what the community thinks about Pacherille, Sr.’s latest grumblings, Policelli said “we fight for what’s right and what’s true, and I don’t care what’s popular or not.”
All these legal troubles, Policelli said, started for one simple reason: The authorities wanted to treat Pacherille, Jr.’s case from Day One as a racist hate crime, rather than the act of a mentally troubled boy who had been bullied.
“Pacherille, Sr. is being portrayed as a person he’s not, when he didn’t do anything wrong,” Policelli said. “He was told to stop saying the truth — that his son was bullied — and everything he said was protected by the First Amendment. This DA and this judge tried to prevent him from exercising his freedom of speech.”
Page 2 of 2 - Sherriff Richard Devlin, Jr. denied the allegations, but would not comment further. Craig Lippitt could not be reached for comment.
The 15-page federal lawsuit alleges that Muehl, Lippitt and sheriff’s Senior Investigator Michael Ten Eyck all schemed together in retaliation against a series of “satirical” online criticisms. But, the lawsuit states, Muehl and the sheriff’s office should have known they had no right to seize Pacherille, Sr.’s home computers, no matter how personally biting his remarks were.
A local judge later dismissed the aggravated harassment charges against Pacherille, Sr. and his brother, ruling that the online postings were protected free speech.