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Harassment charge on Parenti dismissed

Town Justice John P. Teixeira dismissed a harassment charge Thursday against Niagara County Democratic Committeeman Gary D. Parenti over an election season phone call he made to a Legislature candidate.

The charge was dismissed after District Attorney Matthew J. Murphy III reviewed the circumstances of the case and determined "there wasn't conduct that warranted criminal prosecution," said Assistant District Attorney Brian D. Seaman.

Robert S. LaBarbera filed a complaint in the Town of Niagara in July that accused Parenti of harassing him during a phone call by saying "he had the silver bullet to destroy me financially and politically." At the time, LaBarbera was running for County Legislature.

The phone call was made shortly after LaBarbera appeared in court on a charge of driving while intoxicated. LaBarbera later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of driving while ability impaired.

Parenti, 41, of Niagara Falls, said he never threatened LaBarbera and said he called LaBarbera as a Democratic committeeman to give him "friendly advice" to drop out of the race.

"He tried to use me as a diversion to the real problem, which was the DWI," Parenti said Thursday.

LaBarbera said he was disappointed that the harassment charge was dismissed. He said he had two witnesses that could have recounted statements Parenti made to LaBarbera.

"I have a family here. I can't have people harassing me," LaBarbera said. "It's certainly not a minor thing to me."

Parenti ran unsuccessfully last year in the 138th District Assembly primary against incumbent Francine DelMonte. LaBarbera backed DelMonte in that race.

Seaman said Murphy does not review all harassment complaints filed in the county but was asked by one of the attorneys involved in the case to review this charge.

e-mail: djewell@buffnews.com

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