The following is Part II of our interview with Joe Cavallaro.
When we last left our hero, he had been arrested by the New York State Police. His crime? Trying to speak with someone in John Faso's Albany Office. Warning! The content of this interview may not be suitable for those over eighteen years of age or older.
TP: So they took you to Hunter.
JC: Yes, I was fingerprinted and all that.
TP: Did they say what you were charged with?
JC: Well, after everything was done at Hunter, they transported me up the throughway. It was a whole big production. Another trooper met us about halfway and I was transferred to that car and taken in. It was some special trooper unit, the Executive Unit. Like the Gestapo.
TP: What were the charges?
JC: Aggravated Harassment in the 2nd Degree. Judge Herrick came and arraigned me. It was the only time I've ever been arrested so I didn't know anything at all. Then, a sergeant comes in to talk with me. He says, 'You know why you were arrested, don't you?' It was for calling Faso's house. He said, 'You're not being charged with that but that's why you were arrested.' The trooper looked surprised when I told him that Faso's phone number was in the phone book. He also said that since I had no record they'd probably give me something called an ACD or ACOD.
TP: He tells you that the phone calls to Faso's house caused the arrest but that's not part of the complaint? So you have to go up to Albany, where the office was located rather than stay in Greene County?
JC: Exactly. Afterwards, I was released.
TP: How many court appearances did you make?
JC: I had to go up there seven or eight times. The trial was adjourned once, at my request. It was scheduled for June but I was working with the Sheriff Department's D.A.R.E Program on an event for kids. I guess I'm a real menace to society.
TP: Who was your lawyer?
JC: Mark Mishler, a civil rights attorney. I spoke with a few lawyers. Many of them said I would lose and they didn't want to get involved. I went to a few lawyers who didn't want to get involved.
TP: What were your legal fees?
JC: About $5,000. My business also took a hit.
TP: Did the prosecution ever make you that offer? The ACOD?
JC: Yes, an ACD. Something where if I stayed out of trouble for six months the charges would be dropped. I said I couldn't do that. I wasn't brought up that way.
TP: This circus actually went to trial?
JC: About a year later. A day or two before the trial, my lawyer calls and is nervous. He had just found out that Paul Clyne was going to prosecute. I didn't know the name but my lawyer said that Clyne had the law in his blood, was Mr. Justice or something like that. One of the top guys in the office. I was light-hearted about it and actually ended up helping him relax.
TP: Who was the judge?
JC: Judge Duncan. Great guy.
TP: How long was the trial?
JC: It went into a second day before the prosecution ended its case.
TP: Did you have to put on a defense?
JC: No. The judge dismissed the case.
TP: Was Faso there when the case was dismissed?
JC: Yes. Because we subpoenaed him. In fact, we subpoenaed eveyone involved. Everyone that spoke to me at the office, the trooper, everyone. The only person I didn't subpoena was Mrs. Faso. She was the only one that didn't hang-up on me. She was nice and I wanted to show her more respect than Faso showed my wife.
TP: Why did you subpoena Faso's staff? Weren't you afraid they would lie?
JC: No. I just knew that they would tell the truth. I just had a feeling that under oath, they wouldn't lie.
TP: Did they lie on the stand?
JC: No. They all told the truth. They said I was polite and courteous. And the tape they played showed that also. Linehan made a terrible witness for the prosecution. At one point she testified, about me calling the Albany Office, "You don't call the White House and ask to speak with the President. It doesn't work that way." Can you believe that?
TP: You're fucking kidding me?
JC: No, I'm not. She also said that it was office policy that, because of my geographic location, that I speak with Elaine Martin, in the Coxsackie Office. Harry Spector, a spokesperson for Faso, later said that there was no such policy.
TP: What was your sense of Paul Clyne in all of this. Was he enthusiastic or did he look embarrassed?
JC: Embarrassed. He wasn't into it at all. I figure he's probably got murder and rape trials to prepare for and his boss tells him to go do this. No, he didn't want to be there.
TP: Did Faso ever apologize?
TP: So Faso is in the courtroom, at least one day. Presumably, and he's a lawyer, he could have brought this nonsense to an end. He didn't?
TP: Did Judge Duncan admonish the prosecution or did he just dismiss the case?
JC: No, he kind of went after them. He did say my phone calls were for a 'legitimate constituent concern.'
TP: Did you ever get the signs?
JC: Yes. I called my state senator, Senator Bonacic. Had the signs within the week.
TP: Did he have you arrested first?
TP: Has anyone contacted you about putting up a 'Faso for Governor' sign?
TP: Have you contributed any money to the Faso campaign?
JC: Yeah, I'm taking out a second mortgage so I can contribute.
TP: If Faso is elected governor, do you think there may be an increase in anti-sign behavior?
JC: Absolutely. It might be very difficult to drive to New Jersey, unless you already know the way.
TP: Has this effected your business?
JC: Yes. I've lost customers, especially customers from the local area. You see, in a small place like this, no one wants to rock the boat. The politicians control everything and no one wants to get on their bad side. A lot of people here have jobs with the town and county and no one wants to be on the bad side of any politician. Even the Democrats. I went and spoke with the Democratic Town chair a few days after my arrest. She wasn't interested in what had happened.
On the other hand, the further you get from Hunter, the more support I got. People will stop in and tell me they respect me for standing up for myself and not rolling over. The story was in a lot of the papers and people remember.
TP: Is contacting your elected representative a gateway crime? If you're willing to do that what's next? Leaving the room without turning off the lights?
JC: I don't think so. I've been clean ever since.
TP: Any advice for someone who may want a sign?
JC: Make sure your re-dial button works.
TP: What type of governor would Faso make?
JC: Can you imagine? Look how he treated me when he was only an assemblyman.
TP: Thanks for your time.
JC: Thank you.
TP: Never call us again or we'll have you arrested.