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Martinsburg city councilman charged with battery on teen

October 14, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Martinsburg City Councilman Frank Idoni was charged Wednesday with spitting on and punching a teenager last week who he felt was driving too fast, according to court records.

Idoni, 47, of 112 Union Ave., was charged with battery and arraigned on the misdemeanor charge by Magistrate Kristy Greer. Greer agreed to allow Idoni to go free on a $2,500 personal recognizance bond, with the condition that he no longer patrol the streets in his neighborhood.

"It's not your duty to enforce those laws," Greer told Idoni during the arraignment. "You're causing more problems than you're solving."

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After the arraignment, Idoni, who had a black eye, said he lost his temper after Travis Lee Lowery kicked him when he tried to walk away.

"The guy kicked me first," Idoni said. "I shouldn't have gone off but I was walking away and the guy kicked me in the tailbone."

Idoni said he spit on Lowery after Lowery spit on him.

A two-page criminal complaint filed by Sgt. John Sherman, with the Martinsburg Police Department, included recapped statements from four people who witnessed the altercation last Friday.

One witness, John Plowden, alleged to police that Idoni came out of his house at around the same time Lowery was driving recklessly. Idoni yelled at Lowery to slow down and used profanity toward him, prompting Lowery to turn around and make a street gesture at Idoni, records state.

Plowden said that the men exchanged words and "nudged" each other. After Idoni turned around, Lowery kicked him, at which time Idoni turned around and spit on Lowery, records state.

Plowden said that Lowery then punched Idoni and both men fell to the ground fighting, records state.

Other witnesses reported the fight as happening differently.

Matthew Price told police that Idoni "got in Lowery's face, started yelling and spit in Lowery's face. Lowery backed away and Idoni hit him. Lowery started hitting Idoni in what Price stated he would consider self-defense," records state.

John Seyle said that Idoni punched Lowery and that Lowery then began to defend himself.

The fourth witness, John Eardley, said that Idoni was punched but continued to yell at Lowery. Idoni spit on Lowery and Lowery then started to walk away, records state.

Eardley told police that Lowery "stepped back up to see what his (Idoni's) problem was" and was punched in the ear. Lowery then kicked Idoni and "swung back to defend himself" after Idoni "kept pursuing the fight," records state.

Police said that Idoni had a bruised left eye and Lowery had a red mark on his right ear. Sherman indicated in court records that he considered Idoni to be the primary aggressor because he approached Lowery, records state.

During the arraignment Greer initially said she was not going to allow Idoni to go free on a personal recognizance bond, but later acquiesced after Idoni said he did not have $250 to put up for bond and that the relative who owns his property lives out of state.

Greer warned Idoni that his bail will be revoked if he violates the conditions of his bond.

When Idoni asked whether he can still walk his dogs, Greer replied that he can but that he cannot carry a baseball bat while walking them.

Idoni has been the subject of several police reports, including those that stemmed from complaints that Idoni walks up and down his neighborhood at night carrying a baseball bat, makes threats and pounds on cars, according to records compiled by the Martinsburg Police Department.

From June 15 to Aug. 8, five formal complaints were filed against Idoni, who was elected to the Ward 5 seat in June by a four-vote margin. He defeated incumbent Glenville Twigg.

Idoni was not charged in connection with those prior complaints.

A petition to have Idoni removed from office has been circulating around Martinsburg, and Mayor George Karos said the petition could be discussed during an executive session after tonight's City Council meeting.

Karos criticized Idoni's behavior.

"I think it's deplorable. I think it's uncalled for. He's no better than any other citizen," Karos said. "Childish is what it is."

Karos said he spoke to Idoni several times and offered him advice, which he said Idoni seemed to disregard.

"This is the worst problem I've ever faced," Karos said.

He called Idoni's behavior "a blemish on the city," and said that Martinsburg is a clean, good and peaceful place to raise a family.

Conviction of a charge of battery carries a sentence of up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $500.

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