Police: Kulpmont mayor threatened to kill contractor
KULPMONT - Mayor Bernard Novakoski "threatened to shoot and kill" a Pottsville area contractor, police said Tuesday while reporting the mayor has been charged with two counts of harassment.
State police at Stonington said in a press release Novakoski was charged in relation to a June 2 incident at the home of his son, also Bernard, in the 500 block of Chestnut Street. The victim is Andrew Hoysock, 49, who operates Hoysock Landscaping and Property Services.
Novakoski, 68, of Scott Street, denies he threatened to kill Hoysock and said he looks forward to "telling the whole story" in court.
Hoysock, meanwhile, described Novakoski as "a nightmare" to work with, and that the mayor indeed threatened to kill him.
Mayor: Work not done
In the brief release from state police, the incident is reported to have happened between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. It says, "The victim (Hoysock), a contractor, reports the suspect (Novakoski) repeatedly threatened to shoot and kill him."
"When we first met he was human," Hoysock said in a phone interview Tuesday night. "But he turned into a vicious, mean, evil, obnoxious, vindictive person."
The mayor doesn't deny he got into an argument with Hoysock and his crew over installation of a retaining wall in his son's yard, part of a patio project. Because his son was working out of town, Novakoski, a retired carpenter, was checking on the work.
"He was hired for a job that was supposed to be completed last Thanksgiving, but this was June and it still wasn't completed," the mayor said.
He also said there was an issue over a $10,000 down payment, and he claims Hoysock never ordered block for the retaining wall.
Hoysock says he did order the block, but when the weather suddenly turned bitter in October, he was no longer able to start the project before winter.
Hoysock also cited "in fighting" between the Novakoskis that left his crew confused. Changes the elder Novakoski would make in his son's absence would be questioned upon the son's return.
"They kept adding to the job and expecting not to pay for it," said Hoysock, who said as far as he's concerned, he completed the job.
He said Novakoski's son apologized for his father's behavior and tried to keep his dad away from the job.
Novakoski said he never threatened to kill Hoysock.
"I might have said in passing that I would like to shoot him, but I never said that I wanted to kill him," the mayor said.
"When the investigation started, they were talking about terroristic threats and now we are down to harassment," Novakoski added. "There is no basis to these charges. He is merely trying to cover his tracks."
Hoysock said he was threatened "two or three times" by Novakoski on the phone, but blew it off. On June 2, Hoysock said he was not on site, but heard about the alleged threat from employees.
"When Mr. Novakoski told my employees that he would like to blow my brains out, they told me it's time to take this seriously," he said.
As for Novakoski's comments that the charge is now just harassment, Hoysock said, "Somehow he got the DA to lower the charges, but I agreed to it. I can win this case easily."
Hoysock said he's still owed about $6,500 for the work and expects he'll have to file a claim in civil court to try to get the money.
Civil suits in past
The mayor said he's since learned that Hoysock has been sued in the past by other customers.
A search of magisterial court records in Schuylkill County shows five civil suits involving Hoysock's company from 2005 to 2013. In each, rulings were made in favor of the plaintiffs.
But Hoysock said he's been in business for decades, and that he's had positive experiences with "99 percent" of his customers.
"When you work for someone different every week, you are going to have issues, and you have about one bad issue every year," Hoysock said.