For­mer Luzerne Co. coun­cil­man fac­ing theft, tres­pass­ing charges in Mary­land

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - LOCAL - By JAMES HALPIN Staff Writer Morelli jhalpin@cit­i­

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.

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