Prosecutors drop charges against Altoona landlord

Prosecutors have dropped charges against a city landlord who was arrested by Altoona police for trying to stop Verizon workers from running a wire across his property.

The Blair County District Attorney’s Office withdrew felony criminal mischief and misdemeanor counts including resisting arrest filed by Altoona police against Alexander E. Badorrek, 28, based on state case law that Badorrek’s attorney cited Wednesday during his appearance at Central Court.

Badorrek was arrested Nov. 2 after he tried to stop a Verizon crew from repairing a landline that crossed over his property from a pole on the 1200 block of 15th Avenue alley to a neighboring property. Badorrek had cut the line the day before when he found out about it while collecting rent from a tenant.

Badorrek then ordered the Verizon crew off his property when they showed up Dec. 3 to re-install the line, but the crew returned with Altoona police who then arrested Badorrek after he grabbed the telephone line that workers had laid out across his property.

Badorrek’s attorney, Thomas Dickey, pointed out that due to a 1997 Superior Court decision in  Commonwealth v. Wertelet, Badorrek was in the right to consider the Verizon crew trespassers by verbally challenging their claim to a right-of-way and that his ultimate arrest was then unlawful.

“My client did exactly that — he challenged their right-of-way and said, ‘I consider you a trespasser, and you need to get off my property,'” Dickey said after the charges were withdrawn.

Dickey explained the dispute over the right-of-way was a civil matter and not one where police could intervene since Badorrek had said he didn’t want the crew on his property or the wire dangling in the air above it.

“When you have property, you own above and below the ground,” Dickey said.

Assistant District District Attorney Amanda Jacobson said given the case law on the matter, the charges were dropped.

“Based on the appellate case law out there, we didn’t feel we could proceed,” Jacobson said.

Dickey said he was pleased by the decision to drop the charges against his client and clear his name. It was also a victory for property owners, he said.

“The case is a good case for the homeowner and the landowner,” Dickey said.

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