Dispute turns political Candidate for North'd Co. coroner claims harassment
COAL TOWNSHIP - A long-running neighborhood dispute has turned political as Northumberland County coroner candidate Leo Mirolli says supporters of incumbent James Kelley are responsible for harassing him and his family.
Incidents that were mostly confined to the theft of political signs of both candidates reached a new high point two weeks ago when someone fired two bolts from a crossbow into the side of Mirolli's swimming pool, causing more than $1,000 damage.
Kelley said he's not aware of anyone's attempts to cause harm and certainly doesn't condone it.
Coal Township police have not made any arrests in connection with the crossbow incident, which occurred between 11 p.m. Aug. 17 and 7 a.m. Aug. 18 at 138 S. First St., where the 42-year-old Mirolli resides with his wife, Kelly, 36, and their four children.
Police said the vandalism resulted in damage to the metal sidewall and pool liner, including two large holes that caused some of the water in the pool to drain into the yard.
Another bolt fired from the crossbow was found in the grass near the pool.
Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call Coal Township police at 644-0333.
Leo Mirolli, Republican challenger to Kelley in the Nov. 5 general election, contends the perpetrator is one of Kelley's campaign supporters.
Mirolli said neighbors and
others who support Kelley have harassed him and his family. He said the harassment, which also includes stealing or damaging campaign signs and verbal threats, started days after he announced his candidacy prior to the primary election.
"I have lost track of how many times I have been harassed by these people, who include neighbors who conspire together," Mirolli said. "The harassment also has involved my wife and children. Now, an individual has moved to the use of a deadly weapon toward my property. Thankfully, no one was hurt or killed. My family is in fear of their lives now.
"This nonsense has to stop," Mirolli continued during a telephone interview Saturday night. "If these were my supporters, I would remove all the political signs with my name on them because I wouldn't want that kind of support."
Mirolli said a search warrant was issued to police for one neighboring residence. He claimed police found a bow and arrow with targets, but not a crossbow.
Coal Township Chief of Police William Carpenter wouldn't confirm or deny if a search warrant was served because the investigation into the vandalism is ongoing.
He said a neighborhood dispute involving Mirolli and others has existed in the 100 block of South Third Street for quite some time. He said Mirolli, his family and neighbors have made complaints about being harassed by each other. Carpenter said the harassment has involved campaign signs for both candidates being stolen or damaged and flowers and grass being destroyed or damaged.
Mirolli said he's upset an arrest hasn't been made yet in the crossbow incident and has threatened to file a civil suit against those he believes are responsible if charges aren't filed in the incident.
He urged Kelley to "rein in his supporters," whom he claimed have also stolen his election signs from his property and other areas of the community.
Mirolli has asked his supporters to not retaliate.
In response to Mirolli's accusations, Kelley said, "I certainly don't condone firing crossbow bolts into a pool, stealing political signs or other types of vandalism. I've had political signs stolen from that neighborhood as well. I don't want to see someone get hurt or any damage being done over this campaign."
Kelley said he met some of those Mirolli claims are responsible when they approached him about obtaining his campaign signs. "They told me they wanted to support me, so I gave them the signs to put on their properties," he said.
Kelley said one woman noted his work with youth in the community.
"The only real connection I have to them are the signs I gave them," he said.