Police in Lancaster, New York accused Town Supervisor Dino Fudoli (R) of threatening to hit one of them on Tuesday during an encounter at a local polling station, WIVB-TV reported.
“As our officer passed by Fudoli said, ‘There’s a man I’d love to punch in the face,'” the Lancaster Police Benevolent Association said in a statement online. “Our officer is currently in the process of filing charges. The people of Lancaster deserve a better leader than this.”
The statement also accused Fudoli and his running mate, Lindsay Weisenburg, of campaigning outside the station when he allegedly threatened Officer Rick Albert, who was off-duty and voting in the local elections. Fudoli is running for re-election against a Democrat, Johanna Metz Coleman.
Fudoli could be charged with harassment, official misconduct and violating election laws.
According to the Buffalo News, Fudoli has been at odds with the police since Monday, when he got into a heated discussion concerning funding for the department with Cayuga Club Police Benevolent Association head Shaun DiMino during a town board meeting.
Albert, who attended the meeting, said that he heard Fudoli telling Weisenburg, “I’m going to punch him in the face.” When Albert asked Fudoli why he said that, he complained that officers pulled him over “for no reason” and then accused him of attending the meeting to bully him.
“I’ve never pulled you over and last night’s board meeting was a public meeting and I was there as a silent observer,” Albert allegedly responded. “If you feel the need to take a swing, do it.”
Fudoli’s attorney, Anthony Parlato, released a statement saying that Albert “got in [Fudoli’s] face” while he was talking to Weisenberg and asked him, “Do you want to punch me in the face?
“This statement was repeated by the officer in front of witnesses several times,” Parlato stated. “Each time, Mr. Fudoli refused to participate in this type of nonsense. Mr. Fudoli denies all allegations of any types of threats or statements made to or directed at Officer Albert.”
However, WGRZ-TV published audio recordings sent to them by Albert. In one recording, Fudoli can be heard attempting to apologize to the officer, telling him, “I shouldn’t have said that.”
“You shouldn’t have said it, I agree,” Albert responds. “You made a mistake. I understand you made a mistake. But the problem is is that I feel threatened at this point by you. I feel intimidated that you would threaten to punch me. I don’t know why you would do that.”
“Like I said, I apologize,” Fudoli says. “It was unprofessional and uncalled for.”
He then appears to allude to the Monday night meeting, saying he was “p*ssed off” about what happened that night. That exchange can be heard below:
In a second recording, Albert tells Fudoli that he could have complained to the police chief if he felt he was being treated unfairly.
“That’s the way to handle it, not threatening to punch me in the face when I go to cast my vote,” the officer says. Fudoli later denies threatening to punch Albert in the face, explaining, “I said I want to.”
“I want you to step away from my vehicle,” Albert says. “I’m concerned about your behavior. It’s inappropriate.”
“I apologize,” Fudoli says. “If you don’t want to take my apology, that’s on you.”
That excerpt can be heard here:
WIVB’s report on the dispute, as aired on Tuesday, can be seen here: