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***BREAKING NEWS*** Vecchia denied in complaint


March 24, 2010
BY RYAN GRANNAN-DOLL

STAFF WRITER

DUDLEY — A Dudley District Court clerk magistrate determined there is no cause to proceed with criminal charges against local blogger Dennis Martinek.

Southbridge Police earlier this month filed a summons against Martinek for one count of criminal harassment after Town Council Vice Chairman Albert Vecchia Jr. told police Martinek was impersonating him on the social networking site Twitter.

After Tuesday's magistrate hearing, Vecchia's attorney, Frank Fennessey, said he is appealing the decision to a judge. A hearing for that appeal has been scheduled for Thursday, April 22.

"It's not over yet," a defiant Vecchia said.

According to Martinek's attorney, Herman Bayless, Clerk Magistrate Kenneth Candito determined not enough evidence existed to file formal criminal charges. Fennessey said that decision also included forgoing a charge of identity theft for the purposes of criminal harassment.

Martinek, through his attorney in an interview after the hearing, admitted he sent out the Twitter messages, but said he has the right to satirize Vecchia, since he is a public official.

"We are proclaiming [Martinek] is the one who did this," Bayless said. "They are sophomoric humor."

Martinek, a member of the Southbridge Charter Review Committee, declined to directly answer whether he would continue sending the messages, but walked out of the hearing happy saying he is glad he still has the right to freely express himself as he pleases.

"I'm a big defender of the First Amendment," he said.

Martinek started tweeting the messages in February, under the online name of "AppleVecchia." Vecchia's commonly known nickname is "Apple."

One tweet, posted Feb. 8, reads: "I'm so glad I put Dennis Martinek on my death wish list. He is a boil on my butt and won't leave me alone. Maybe Danny or Chris can help me?"

Danny and Chris are likely references to Police Chief Daniel Charette and Town Manager Christopher Clark.

Some of the other posts also harshly ridicule Vecchia.

"I'm trying to think if I should perm my hair, or what's left of it, or not. It's hard being a ladies man looking like an old man," one post reads.

On Feb. 9, the writer finally alluded to not being Vecchia. " And in case people don't get it, this is a parody site."

Two days later, the writer posted: "In case you didn't get it the other times I wrote it, I am NOT Al Vecchia. Apple Vecchia is a pen name, get it? It's effing parody, cupeech?"

Three days after that, the writer again told readers "Damn Martinek is driving me crazy good thing I'm not AL Vecchia. I'm his alter ego. APPLE Vecchia why is he telling people the truth?"

Martinek has, in the past, used his own blog to criticize Vecchia, including this entry dated Feb. 10, which lists Dennis as the writer: "Please stop using your friends to try and stop me from writing what you've already said. You sound pitiful, and besides, the last time I called you, you hung up like a scared little school girl."

Ryan Grannan-Doll can be reached by phone at (508) 909-4050, or by e-mail at rgrand@stonebridgepress.com.

Read this story in the Southbridge Evening News Wednesday, March 24

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