The Chappaqua man arrested last year outside a New Castle Planning Board meeting after he shouted an obscenity during a public hearing ended his battle with the district attorney’s office last week by pleading guilty to disorderly conduct.
Will Wedge entered the plea before New Castle Town Justice Noah Sorkin last Thursday in exchange for all other charges being dropped. He had also been charged with two counts of second-degree harassment, obstruction of governmental administration and resisting arrest.
He agreed to pay a $250 fine plus a $150 surcharge, according to the New Castle Justice Court.
Wedge said that he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a violation, because it disposed of the other charges for which he contended he was “falsely arrested.”
“The end result of pleading guilty to disorderly conduct is the same thing,” he said.
Wedge said that the Temporary Order of Protection, which had been in effect since shortly after his Jan. 16, 2018, arrest has been lifted and all restrictions placed on him regarding Town Hall visits no longer apply. The order barred Wedge from the top floor of Town Hall where virtually all municipal meetings are held.
Resolution of the criminal charges came after multiple appearances over 13 months before Sorkin and an application for a change of venue should the case have gone to trial. According to Wedge, the district attorney’s office took about four months to turn over surveillance video to him and his attorney. He also asked for a change of venue, which also took about four months before the request was rejected.
The incident occurred during a Planning Board hearing on the controversial Sunshine Children’s Home project, less than two months after the applicant was found to have engaged in unauthorized work at its Spring Valley Road site. Sunshine demolished a shed housing one of three wells on its land without permits as it sought to make improvements to the well.
During that hearing, Wedge, a project opponent, blasted town officials for failing to penalize Sunshine and allowing its representatives to retroactively apply for and obtain the necessary permits for the work.
Following his comments, Jennifer Gray, the town attorney representing the Planning Board that night, responded that an exhaustive review of the matter was completed. However, no action was necessary because the incident did not affect Sunshine’s existing permits at the time.
That’s when Wedge from his seat yelled out “bull—-.”
Planning Board Chairman Robert Kirkwood immediately ordered Wedge to leave the room. He initially refused, apologizing as he remained seated. However, Kirkwood directed Town Engineer Robert Cioli to summon New Castle police from their downstairs headquarters.
Moments later, Sgt. Kelly Close and Officer Mary Hansen escorted Wedge out of the meeting room to talk to him. After a brief discussion, they ushered him down the flight of stairs to the downstairs lobby at Town Hall, where Wedge suddenly began screaming.
The officers had Wedge on the ground on his stomach just outside the door at Town Hall trying to handcuff him.
Following his court appearance, two nights later, Wedge had a bandage on his hand, stating that he had suffered a broken thumb and a torn rotator cuff in the rhubarb.