WILKES-BARRE — A former partner of Luzerne County Council Chairman Rick Morelli obtained a protection from abuse order against him, alleging he stalked her numerous times and has refused to leave her alone.
Luzerne County Judge Lesa Gelb signed the temporary order Wednesday sought by Deana Pickett and set a hearing date of 9 a.m. on Aug. 7.
The order directed Morelli to stop the harassment and stalking and is not allowed in Pickett’s residence in Dallas Township. He was also ordered to relinquish any and all weapons to the county sheriff.
Pickett listed multiple times between May and early July when Morelli approached her in public and caused a confrontation. She also said her neighbors told her they saw him “sneaking up to my windows at home in the dark.” Pickett said she reported it to police, but they arrived after he left.
“Prove that that’ s me,” Morelli said when informed of the window report by a reporter.
Morelli said he had not seen the order, but had received phone calls about it.
He said the filing was politically motivated “to hurt my reputation as a public official.” The order was filed as way “to prevent me from disclosing information in another legal case,” he said.
“I have nothing to hide and am looking forward to court and telling everything,” Morelli said. “The accusations are actually laughable. They’re comical to me.”
A former Hazleton Area School Board member, Morelli got involved in Luzerne County government in May 2009, when he was elected to county Home Rule Study Commission. He also served on the home rule transition committee after the new government was approved and was elected to the first 11-member county council in 2011. Morelli has been serving as council chairman since January.
Council Vice Chairman Edward Brominski declined comment Wednesday on the filing against Morelli.
The latest incident occurred on July 9 at King’s Pizzeria and Restaurant in Fairview Township when Pickett and her 8-year-old daughter met another man, David Fey, and his daughter and her friend for dinner.
Pickett said she recorded video of Morelli on her cell phone and provided that to police when she reported it to them.
Morelli said he also contacted police. “I filed the same report the day after,” he said. “I had something thrown at me,” he said and have people who said they witnessed it.
Morelli stressed that no where in the PFA does it say he physically threatened anyone.
He promised to challenge the allegations. “I am not backing down. I will fight it as I always do.”