Former Luzerne Co. councilman facing theft, trespassing charges in Maryland
WILKES-BARRE — A former Luzerne County councilman is facing trespassing charges in Maryland for an incident last spring at an Ocean City hotel.
Maryland court records show Rick Morelli, 45, of Sugarloaf Township, was charged Dec. 22 with a misdemeanor count of trespassing. A police report obtained by The Citizens’ Voice, a TimesShamrock newspaper, also shows a theft charge is pending against Morelli for canceling a $450 check to charity after attending a golfing event put on by the organizers.
“We were just taken back, like, ‘Who does that?’” Robert Riccio, director of the Mr. & Mrs. Riccio Memorial Foundation, said Thursday.
Reached for comment, Morelli, a former Hazleton area school director, called the allegations a farce. He claims he is being targeted for asking questions about where the money goes.
“This is all retribution,” said Morelli, who successfully ran last year to become a delegate to elect Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention.
According to the police report, Morelli was ejected from the Tidelands Caribbean Hotel and Suites on June 5 following an argument about a restaurant bill the night before.
After being told to leave, Morelli returned twice — the second time being spotted yelling from a hotel balcony, the report alleges.
Morelli subsequently put a stop-payment order on a $450 check he had written to the charity for the event, writing in a letter to Riccio he was only responsible for part of that amount. He issued a second check to the charity for $95, according to the report, which characterizes the stoppayment order as a theft.
In response to the charges, Morelli acknowledged going back to the hotel to get clarification about being ejected, but said the claim he returned again was a “blatant lie.” He also admitted putting a stop-payment order on the check but said it was because he got kicked out before the end of the event.
“I’ll pay you for what I did, and that’s what I did,” Morelli said. “I’m not giving money to a charity that I don’t believe in and that I didn’t use the services.”
Riccio said that Morelli’s requests for the charity’s financials only came after police first confronted him.
“For him to say that is nonsense,” Riccio said.