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Alderman pays fine for disorderly conduct


Judge dismisses charge against downtown business owner



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December 14, 2011 | 08:03 AM
The most recent battle between an alderman and a local business owner appears to be over.

Fourth District Alderman Frank Marsala and Aerial Stunt Kites owner Ruth Hackman have a long history of calls to police about bickering, arguing and bullying. They also have restraining orders against each other.

But the most recent police contact was settled in court.

The court appearances were the result of a July 21 incident that involved both receiving disorderly conduct citations.

Marsala plead no contest to disorderly conduct and paid $143.80, which included a fine and court costs.

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Hackman fought the ticket, went to trial regarding the citation and the charge against her was dismissed on Nov. 22.

Her attorney, Steve Harvey, said the prosecution put on its case and before the defense went on Harvey said he made a motion to dismiss and Judge Robert Kennedy agreed without Hackman testifying.

"Ruth thought she wasn't guilty and fortunately the judge saw it our way," Harvey said.

According to a transcript of the proceedings on Nov. 22, although Kennedy dismissed the charge, he also was critical of Hackman's behavior.

"In a sense, I don't like what I'm going to do right now," Kennedy stated according to the transcript. "I don't like the gut feeling I have about what Ms. Hackman is doing. I am seriously concerned about whether she is taking her dislike of Frank to the point where she is trying to find faults and maybe even seeing things that aren't so, but believing because of her point of view and antipathy towards him, that he's doing wrong."

Marsala runs the American Legion Canteen across Wrigley Drive from Hackman's store, and was called a "bully" by County Court Commissioner Kristine Drettwan in August 2009 when she granted the four-year long restraining orders.

According to a Walworth County Sheriff's Department report obtained from Central Records, Hackman called police at about 2:30 p.m. that Thursday.

Hackman, 65, said that earlier, while she was talking to a neighbor, Marsala took a photograph of her and when she saw him, he "slinked" away.

She said she believed it was harassment for her to have her picture taken by Marsala.

Marsala, 67, told police he did take a photo of Hackman because she has a video camera aimed at his store and she has repeatedly called the health inspector on him.

Marsala said there was a complete investigation of his stand when Hackman had complained about diapers being changed in the "store."

Marsala said at no time have diapers been changed in the food stand and that he received a "clean bill" from the health inspector. He said he just recently received a second letter of an unauthorized person being in the cooking area of the food stand.

That complaint also was from Hackman, who sent the video to the health inspector. The officer at the scene decided both Hackman and Marsala were harassing each other and both were given citations.

Marsala said he understood and "had a good attitude" according to the officer's report.

Hackman was upset about this and again stated she only uses the cameras to catch "drug dealers" and people who speed down the alley the wrong direction. She said she would "see me in court," the report from the officer stated.

In August 2009, Drettwan called the situation "ridiculous" and called Marsala and business partner at the canteen Gonzalo Davila "bullies." But she also said there was blame to go around.

"I truly believe you were harassed and intimidated, but that compounded and mushroomed in your mind and heart," Drettwan said in court to Hackman.

The bickering between the two parties has been ongoing for several years and stemmed from multiple complaints.

Hackman previously claimed the two men had barked at her, pointed a rifle at her and called her a derogatory term regarding sexual orientation, set off car alarms and horns to disturb her, parked large vehicles in front of her store and would loudly play Rick James' "Super Freak" when she was outside.

Marsala and Davila denied those claims and Marsala said Hackman called him names in letters to the editor and in correspondence with city officials.

Hackman has called Marsala a "repo man," claimed he has "mob ties" and would bring "Chicago-style politics" to Lake Geneva. Marsala has never worked as a repo man and although he lived in Chicago he has never held public office there.

Hackman also called Marsala and Davila the "village idiots" and "illegals."

Lake Geneva Police were called to Hackman's business many times, but her complaints were deemed unfounded.

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