LYNNFIELD — A former Everett police officer has been charged with criminal harassment.
If convicted, Stephen D. Berardino, a Lynnfield resident, faces up to 2½ years in prison and a $1,000 fine.
The 27-year-old Stafford Road resident was scheduled for arraignment on Monday, Dec. 10. But his attorneys brought him in earlier, and as a result, avoided reporters. He pleaded not guilty.
Peabody District Court Judge Carol-Ann Fraser ordered Berardino not to have any contact with the victim and to surrender any firearms. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for next month.
The case came to the police’s attention in February, when Paula Parziale told Lynnfield police someone has been throwing trash and fireworks on her lawn for months, according to the police report provided by the Essex District Attorney’s Office.
The Locksley Road resident said she did not know who was tossing trash and installed security cameras to find the culprit.
Parziale reported that in the summer of 2017 she was driving on her street and was nearly struck head-on by the operator of a black pickup truck with a “Blue Lives Matter” bumper sticker. She described the driver as a man in his mid-20s with short brown hair and reported seeing the vehicle on her street many times.
In April, a detective and lieutenant from the Lynnfield Police Department conducted surveillance of Parziale’s home. They spotted a man in a black pickup throw a water bottle out of his vehicle onto her property. Berardino was stopped by police and he admitted throwing the water bottle, the police report said.
Parziale kept careful records, a five-page list, with the date and time of the alleged littering, which included Dunkin’ Donuts cups, milk bottles, beer boxes, lit fireworks that went off in the middle of the night, yogurt containers, and water bottles. Each time, she checked the video, it was the black pickup on tape.
In addition, the police report said as a member of the Merrimack College Police in 2017, a dispatcher queried Parziale’s license plate number despite the fact that she had never been on the campus.
Lynnfield investigators confirmed through the Everett Police Department’s Internal Affairs Office, that Berardino was not on duty when the alleged littering occurred.
Everett Police Chief Steven Mazzie said Berardino was hired in the summer of 2017 and was a probationary officer at the time of the allegations. When his department learned of the allegations, a review was ordered, and Berardino resigned, the chief said.
While law enforcement sources say defense attorneys will sometimes move court dates to avoid reporters, Elyse Hershon, a criminal defense lawyer who represents Berardino, said the court date was changed because she was working on a murder trial.