Charges dropped in alleged threat to shoot South Shore councilman

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Criminal charges have been dismissed against a Brooklyn man accused of threatening to shoot then-Councilman Vincent Ignizio earlier this year in a dispute over property near PS 6 in Richmond Valley.

Douglas C. Auer, spokesman for Acting District Attorney Daniel Master, said prosecutors moved to toss the charges against John DePietro “in the interest of justice” at a Criminal Court proceeding Thursday.

“Although the People submit there was probable cause for the arrest of the defendant on the charges, the People believe they would be unable to sustain their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt at trial,” Auer said.

He said the court file was sealed and he couldn’t comment further.

DePietro was charged with a felony count of making a terroristic threat and a misdemeanor count of second-degree aggravated harassment, stemming from a phone call he made to Community Board 3 in Rossville on April 27.

Under state law, a person is guilty of making a terroristic threat when he or she threatens to commit a specified offense with the intent of intimidating or coercing the public, influencing government policy or affecting government’s conduct by murder, assassination or kidnapping, and there is a reasonable expectation he or she will carry out the threat.

According to court documents, DePietro allegedly told a receptionist: “PS 6 is sending their excess runoff water onto my property. Ignizio ruined my life, he demolished my house; I can’t develop my property because of him.”

After stating his name and phone number, DePietro allegedly added: “Ignizio took my house; I’m going to shoot him.”

At the time Ignizio, a Republican, was the South Shore’s city councilman.

Yan Katsnelson, DePietro’s lawyer, previously told the Advance his client said “sue” instead of “shoot.”

A source with knowledge of the investigation said DePietro’s statements appear to be related to an abandoned building packed with debris and combustible propane and gas tanks that was demolished by the city in December 2007.

The razing of the structure at 527 Page Ave. in Richmond Valley came as a relief to staff at PS 6, located across the street from the building that had 15 open building code violations.

Katsnelson said he was gratified to reach such a favorable resolution for his client.

“(Thursday’s) events proved that my client was telling the truth the whole time, and he never threatened the councilman or anybody else,” said Katsnelson.

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