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Longtime Chappaqua Firefighter Accused Of Menacing Colleague

Longtime Chappaqua volunteer firefighter Barry Zezze has been charged with a criminal harassment count. He is accused of harassing a fellow firefighter.
Longtime Chappaqua volunteer firefighter Barry Zezze has been charged with a criminal harassment count. He is accused of harassing a fellow firefighter. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- A veteran Chappaqua volunteer firefighter and former elected official is accused of menacing a fellow member of the fire department.

Barry Zezze was arraigned at New Castle Justice Court on Thursday evening on a criminal charge of third-degree menacing, which is a misdemeanor.

Although details of the charge, which involves a female colleague, were not raised during Zezze's appearance, his lawyer, James Timko described the allegation as being a "shout in somebody's face."

During the arraignment, Timko recited Zezze's community ties, including 26 years as a Chappaqua volunteer firefighter and 15 years as an elected member of the New Castle Board of Fire Commissioners. Zezze is also a retired Hartsdale fire captain, Timko said, adding that his son is an assistant chief with the Chappaqua Fire Department and that his daughter is a teacher.

Zezze's wife, Nancy, has served as secretary to the New Castle Board of Fire Commissioners for years.

From 2015-16, Nancy Zezze simultaneously served as a commissioner after the board appointed her to fill a vacancy caused by a death. She  Zezze lost her bid in December to fill out the rest of the seat's term.

Timko also noted that Zezze has lived in Chappaqua for "essentially his entire adult life," and that his wife's side of the family has lived in the area since the 1920s.

The Zezzes' community presence is prominently displayed in the form of an honorific roadway sign, which can be seen while driving north on Route 117. a stretch that is just outside of downtown Chappaqua.

New Castle Town Justice Noah Sorkin, who arraigned Zezze, said that he will turn the case over to his fellow local judge, Douglas Kraus, because a person involved in it was a witness of his several year's ago when he served as the town prosecutor.

While Sorkin assigned an order of protection in favor of the complainant, he carved out an exception, at Timko's request, that will allow for Zezze to continue volunteering as a firefighter even in the presence of the fellow volunteer.

In requesting the exception, Timko cited his expertise, such as being able to drive much of the fire department's vehicles.

"His service to the department is essential," Timko said.

The order otherwise bars Zezze from communicating with the colleague in any form and from visiting her residence or place of business.

Zezze, who pleaded not guilty to the charge, was released without bail.

Timko, who vowed to fight the charge and denied the allegation, argued that the law in which is client is being prosecuted under doesn't apply to shouting. Rather, Timko said, it only covers threats of death or serious physical injury.

Zezze is due back in court on April 13, when Kraus will assume his case.

Correction: The original version of this story said that Zezze was charged with harassment. Zezze was, in fact, charged with menacing.

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