Stalking Charges Reduced

By Maeleeke Lavan
Poughkeepsie Journal (Poughkeepsie, NY)
September 21, 2002

WAPPINGERS FALLS -- The Dutchess County district attorney's office has reduced dramatically charges against a former priest accused of stalking and harassing a Town of Wappinger man and his family.

James T. Tamburrino, 35, of Middletown, was arrested last week and charged with multiple counts of second-degree aggravated harassment and third-degree stalking of the man. Authorities said Tamburrino met the man in a New York City night club. Tamburrino had faced felonies under hate crimes laws.

Frank Petramale, senior assistant district attorney, said evidence was "legally insufficient ... to meet the requirements of a hate crime."

A member of the Carmelite Fathers order, Tamburrino was removed from the ministry last year by Rev. Michael Driscoll, provincial of the New York Carmelites, because of other allegations.

Misdemeanors remain

Tamburrino now faces three counts of misdemeanor aggravated harassment and one count of misdemeanor stalking.

"In this case, we have aggravated harassment and stalking that the defendant is doing," Petramale said. "But in the context of a close relationship with the victim, it lacks the necessary bias motivation to elevate crimes to felony hate crime."

The victim alleges Tamburrino made harassing phone calls and sent mail to his house -- including photographs -- between Aug. 16 and Sept. 12.

Attorneys Michael S. Blustein and Anthony R. LoBiondo, of the Middletown law firm Bonacic, Blustein & Krahulik, are representing Tamburrino.

"At this point in time, I'm very pleased the (district attorney) looked into the case and reduced the charges to misdemeanors," Blustein said. "I think there's more going on in the case than meets the eye."

Tamburrino is scheduled to re-appear in Town of Wappinger Court on Oct. 9.


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