Two Valley Stream residents were arrested and arraigned on misdemeanor charges Monday after allegations that they had racially harassed their next-door neighbor, according to the office of Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas.
John McEneaney, 57, was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief with intent to damage property and first-degree harassment, while his girlfriend, Mindy Canarick, 53, was charged with third-degree criminal tampering, prosecutors reported. If convicted of the top charges, McEneaney could serve up to a year in prison, while Canarick could serve up to three months.
There was no evidence of a hate crime, Singas said, after investigators and detectives had interviewed witnesses and village code enforcement officers, and reviewed surveillance videos but, she noted, “This kind of persistent harassment is never acceptable.”
The arrests came after Mc-Eneaney’s neighbor Jennifer McLeggan, a nurse and a single Black mother, alleged the two had harassed her since she moved into her home on Sapir Street in 2017. Mc-Eneaney and Canarick are white.
McLeggan, 39, detailed the alleged abuse on a sign she posted in her doorway early last month. Photos of the sign were shared widely on social media, drawing a groundswell of support, including a protest that drew more than 1,000 people on July 16. The sign, and the media attention that followed, prompted a probe into the allegations, which, Singas said, revealed “a pattern of harassing conduct against Ms. McLeggan.”
“This is a long time coming,” said Heather Palmer, an attorney for McLeggan. “Jennifer has been harassed and been frightened by her neighbors for the past three years. Finally the Nassau County district attorney stepped in where the Nassau County police dragged their feet and effectuated an arrest.”
McLeggan alleged finding garbage, including feces, on her lawn, and more recently, a dead squirrel. She said she also felt threatened by what she said she believed were guns her neighbors had in their possession, and was fearful of letting her 2-year-old daughter play in her yard.
In a news conference on July 13, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said that between McLeggan and her neighbors, officers had been called to the two homes 45 times since 2017 in what he described as an “ongoing dispute” between them. He confirmed the presence of two pellet guns, which he said the neighbors had been using to shoot targets in their backyard.
Additionally, Ryder said that McEneaney’s father, Michael McEneaney, 82, who also lives in the house with the couple, had told police that he was “not looking for a problem with his neighbors.”
The charges against the younger Mc-Eneaney allege that “as a form of harassment to annoy or alarm the victim,” he shot the pellet guns across McLeggan’s lawn, hitting a nearby street sign at least 20 times. At least four pellets were found on McLeggan’s lawn, Singas said, giving credence to her fears that one could strike her daughter.
Police said they confiscated the guns last month.
Additionally, the charge against Canarick alleges that McLeggan saw her dropping dog feces on her lawn.
Singas, in taped remarks announcing the charges against the two, said, “This conduct crossed the line between being a bad neighbor and into the realm of criminality.”
In addition to the charges, Nassau County Judge Erica Prager issued an order of protection to prevent further interaction between the parties.
Caranick is being represented by the Legal Aid Society, and a public defender has been assigned to represent McEneaney. The two are due back in court on Oct. 9.
The Legal Aid Society does not comment on cases.