An Altoona private investigator is free on bail after his arrest for allegedly stalking his ex-wife.
Craig G. Zahradnik, 39, of 504 56th St., a former Altoona police detective, is accused of following his ex-wife and the couple's two children for about an hour Tuesday evening with the wife telling police that Zahradnik has kept her in constant fear of "his anger," according to charges filed by Altoona police.
Zahradnik's attorney, Thomas Dickey, said his client will fight the single count of misdemeanor stalking and said Zahradnik believes the accusations stem from an ongoing custody dispute.
Dickey also said Zahradnik believes his arrest by Altoona police to be payback for memos he wrote that are now being used in the defense of an ex-Altoona officer charged in the Memorial Day 2010 Pellegrine's Lounge fight.
"Nothing he did was criminal," Dickey said.
Zahradnik allegedly called Altoona police on his ex-wife at 7:56 p.m. to have officers check on the welfare of the woman and the two children, according to court records.
It was immediately apparent after arriving at Zahradnik's ex-wife's home that the call was unfounded, and the woman told officers Zahradnik had followed her and the children for the last hour in his car, police said.
According to Altoona police, Zahradnik's ex-wife noticed him behind her while turning on Plank Road at about 7:05 p.m. and that he stayed on her tail as she weaved through city and Logan Township streets. The woman called 911 and met with Allegheny Township officers in the Walmart parking lot after her father arrived to take the children to a nearby store, police said.
After speaking with officers, Zahradnik's ex-wife, along with her father and the children, returned to her home. As they neared an intersection close to her home at around 8 p.m., Zahradnik was spotted again, police said.
Zahradnik was arrested without incident at his home about 4 a.m. Wednesday, Altoona police said.
Zahradnik currently operates Zahradnik Investigations in Altoona and retired as an Altoona police corporal after a run-in with police in October 2010.
In that alleged incident, one where charges were never filed by state police investigators, Zahradnik's ex-wife claimed in an application for a protection-from-abuse order that he had called her, while drinking, and threatened to kill a male friend of hers before killing himself.
When Zahradnik was taken into custody near his ex-wife's home late Oct. 9, 2010, state police noted he had a 14-inch kitchen knife and gloves on the front passenger seat of his car, records show. The records from that alleged incident indicated Zahradnik was taken to a mental health facility after his detainment by police but no charges were ever filed.