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Couple re-arraigned in alleged neighbor dispute

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Valley Streamers Mindy Canarick and John McEneaney at the First District Courthouse, where they were re-arraigned on misdemeanor charges Friday.
Valley Streamers Mindy Canarick and John McEneaney at the First District Courthouse, where they were re-arraigned on misdemeanor charges Friday.
Peter Belfiore/Herald

A Valley Stream couple was re-arraigned on misdemeanor charges last Friday after their neighbor submitted a sworn statement alleging a pattern of harassment against her, including remarks made about her race by one of the defendants.

Appearing before Nassau County District Court Judge Eileen Goggin, prosecutors charged John McEneaney, 57, of Sapir Street, with first-degree harassment and fourth-degree criminal mischief, and his girlfriend, Mindy Canarick, 53, with third-degree criminal tampering. The charges are the same as those filed after their arrest and initial arraignment on Aug. 17, and are now supported by three pages of sworn statement by their neighbor and alleged victim, Jennifer McLeggan. The two again pleaded not guilty to the charges.

McLeggan’s allegations against the two gained widespread attention in July after she posted a sign on her front door outlining what she said was racial harassment that she suffered because of them, causing her to fear for her life. McLeggan is Black. McEneaney and Canarick are white.

Photos of the sign were shared thousands of times on social media, and the claims spurred a protest in Valley Stream in late July, drawing roughly 2,000 demonstrators.

In a Sept. 21 statement, McLeggan, 39, said she moved in to her Sapir Street home in April 2017, and shortly afterward, problems with the two defendants — and McEneaney’s father, Michael McEneaney, 83, who lives with the couple — allegedly began. She said they confronted her about the state her property, which she said was in disarray after she purchased the home in foreclosure.

McLeggan alleged that throughout her time living in the home, McEneaney often fired a pair of pellet guns — a long rifle-style gun and pistol-style gun — near or across her property, and she regularly heard “pops,” indicating that the guns had been discharged, which she said made her “jump” in “alarm” and placed her, she said, “in fear that I or my young daughter, who resides with me, will be injured.” Calls to police about McEneaney firing the pellet guns did not stop him, she said.

Additionally, around May or June of 2018, McLeggan said she began finding litter, including feces, on her lawn, and she alleged that in May 2019, she observed Canarick drop what appeared to be feces on McLeggan’s front yard. In June 2019, after installing video surveillance cameras on her home, McLeggan alleged that the cameras caught Canarick again leaving what appeared to be feces on her lawn.

Also caught on the surveillance cameras were remarks allegedly made by Mc-Eneaney in July 2019, saying McLeggan had used “the race card again” in a dispute, and asserting, “If I didn’t like Black people, I could have had you erased a long time ago.” The latter remark came after he spoke with police officers about one of her complaints about the pellet guns. 

At one point, McLeggan alleged that she witnessed McEneaney tell her to “go back” to where she “came from.”

McEneaney’s attorney, Garden City-based Joseph Megale, declined to comment on the case. The Legal Aid Society, which does not comment on cases, represents Canarick.

In addition to McLeggan’s recent sworn statement, there is a deposition given by a Nassau County police detective at the time of McEneaney and Canarick’s arrest in August, outlining the charges against them.   

According to conversations with McLeggan and other witnesses, as well as a review of 911 calls and video footage, McEneaney was allegedly seen several times with the pellet guns over the years. He claimed he was only firing them in his backyard, and he surrendered them to police in July.

Witnesses, as well as McLeggan, however, reported they had heard the “pings” of pellets hitting a pair of metal street signs across from her home, and a witness claimed to have found pellets on McLeggan’s lawn many times, indicating they had been fired across her property. 

The charge against Canarick stemmed from McLeggan’s allegation that she had seen the neighbor dropping dog feces on her lawn.

After the couple’s arrests, District Attorney Madeline Singas said that, taken together, the evidence indicated “a pattern of harassing behavior,” which, she noted, “crossed the line from being a bad neighbor and into the realm of criminality.”

Her office found no evidence of a hate crime, she said. If convicted of the top charges, McEneaney could serve up to a year in prison, while Canarick could serve up to three months.

Additionally, Goggin signed new orders of protection Friday mandating that the two stay away from McLeggan, after Goggin the previous week had ordered prosecutors to investigate whether the two had violated a prior order of protection.