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Court case goes ducky for Massena man charged with hunter harassment

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MASSENA - A Massena man charged with harassing a guide with two clients who were duck hunting on the St. Lawrence River near Long Sault Island has had the count dismissed in the interest of justice following an appearance before Massena Town Justice Gerald P. Sharlow.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Office of Public Protection had charged Tony O. Zappia, 59, of Old River Road, Massena, with hunter harassment following an incident that reportedly took place at 6:30 a.m. Nov. 16.

Nicholas P. McNamara told police he had launched a boat in the Massena area with an assistant and two clients on a duck hunt.

He told police he was hunting near Long Sault Island when a boat operator, whom he identified as Mr. Zappia, started to “pretend” to fish in front of his decoys. Mr. McNamara charged Mr. Zappia had made four passes less than 30 feet from the decoys.

Mr. McNamara also alleged Mr. Zappia had several Blaze orange vests stored in front of his boat in an effort to scare the ducks away from the decoys. He also told police that after he decided to take down his blind and pull the decoys out of the water Mr. Zappia left the area.

He suggested the incident was a continuation of a dispute that had been taking place for several months. He said Mr. Zappia had sent an email to his boss, David Forsythe, the previous year complaining about him hunting in the Massena area and had sent him a similar message.

A copy of the email reportedly sent to Mr. Forsythe was included in the court file.

“Nick has ample river to hunt from Waddington to Morristown. Could you ask him politely to refrain from bringing clients and his buds down to my stomping grounds simply out of respect. Lately Nick has been spending considerable time hunting my backyard,” the email purportedly sent by Mr. Zappia to Mr. Forsythe pointed out.

Defense attorney Virginia A. Gettmann said she was prepared to argue the merits of the allegations if the case had moved forward, but it was dismissed on technicalities because the accusations contained in the paperwork were insufficient for the charge under the requirements of the statute.

“There was no proof in the paperwork that the person allegedly being harassed was a licensed hunter and that the alleged activity was done with no legitimate purpose. Those allegations were absent from the accusatory instrument,” she said.

Ms. Gettmann said the end result was the proper one. “Justice was absolutely served,” according to Ms. Gettmann.

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