Man faces jail for laughing too loudly in own home

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - A man from Long Island, New York, is facing up to 30 days in jail and a US$500 (S$623) fine after a neighbour complained to police he was laughing too loudly, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Police issued Mr Robert Schiavelli, 41, two tickets for disturbing the peace for laughing out the window of his home in Rockville Centre on Long Island at about 6pm on Feb 12 and Feb 13, his lawyer said.

Mr Schiavelli said the neighbour regularly mocks his disability, and the best response to those taunts is laughter.

"He just ridicules me all the time and the only thing I can come up with is laughing," Mr Schiavelli said in a telephone interview.

His lawyer, Mr Andrew Campanelli, said his client has frequent seizures as a result of neurological impairments but denied his laugh is loud or boisterous.

"He's like a big teddy bear, he's got a low laugh," Mr Campanelli said.

Mr Schiavelli lives with his mother, Ms Suzanne Schiavelli, who said in an interview on Wednesday that he had a "fairly loud" laugh.

"I think it's infectious. It's cute," she said. "When my husband died, we said to ourselves, 'We're going to make sure to laugh every day and make the most of life'."

Mr Daniel O'Hanion, the neighbour who made the complaint, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Mr O'Hanion and Mr Schiavelli live in adjacent private homes about 20 feet apart, separated by two driveways.

The Rockville Centre Police Department said they issued the summonses after receiving complaints about an ongoing pattern of noisemaking.

"On two occasions, police actually observed this individual creating a disturbance directed at neighbours and in violation of local law," police said in a statement.

Mr Schiavelli's mother said Mr O'Hanion often calls her son a "retard", parodies his speech and mocks his walk. Relations worsened when they had builders in to renovate their house over Mr O'Hanion's objections, she said.

Mr Campanelli said that a judge declined a motion to dismiss the case at a village court hearing on Tuesday.