Ronald Derisi, 67, Allegedly Caused $100,000 Worth Of Damage

SMITHTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island man so frustrated with a cell phone tower, allegedly took action and, as a result, ended up in jail.

At a gated community of townhouses in Smithtown, a cell tower has sprouted just a stone’s throw away. And a resident of one of the townhouses closest to the tower has been arrested for cutting the tower’s cables.

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Ronald Derisi, 67, was picked up on two felony counts of tampering and criminal mischief. Someone slammed the door when CBS 2’s John Slattery went to the front of his house Friday to get a comment.

According to police, the damage was extensive: 12 feeder cables cut.

The cables, which are two to three inches in diameter, ran from a ground panel up the 210-foot tower, which was still being constructed next to an existing tower. The damage Derisi allegedly caused was estimated at $100,000.

A spokesman for Smithtown said the cell site, leased to Metro PCS, was necessary for public safety. The project was advertised. There was a public hearing and the town board voted unanimously.

Yet, there is clearly opposition from residents.

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“I’m not happy. I’m not happy,” said townhouse resident Janet Berry, who added she would not have cut the cables.

But on Thanksgiving Day, Derisi wrote an e-mail to the town supervisor saying: “How did you manage to have a cell site tower installed overlooking our community that will shower us with RF radiation 24 hours a day? Not to mention how our home values will plummet. This needs to stop now.”

It was during that long weekend that the cables were cut, and a town source said video surveillance recorded the destructive deed, and that led police to Derisi.

What’s incredible is that someone might think that vandalism of this sort would put an end to local cell service.

Derisi was issued summonses, and will be arraigned at a later date.

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