HOULTON — A former New Jersey police officer pleaded not guilty in Aroostook County Superior Court Wednesday to seven charges stemming from a hunting incident in November.
Joseph J. Rodweller, 39, of Linneus was charged with criminal trespassing, two counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, disorderly conduct, assault, fraudulently obtaining a hunting license and having a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle. He has requested a jury trial.
On Nov. 2, 1996, Rodweller allegedly pushed his way under a fence onto property belonging to Jon and Deborah Lipsky of Linneus. The property is posted against hunting.
The Lipskys, who have farm animals, reportedly saw Rodweller go under the fence and they proceeded to warn him that their land was posted. At that point, the couple said, Rodweller pointed his rifle at Deborah Lipsky. Jon Lipsky, in turn, aimed his rifle at Rodweller.
The Lipskys said Rodweller later threw a piece of wood at Jon Lipsky and hit him. He also allegedly threatened to come back and shoot Jon Lipsky. When Deborah Lipsky left to call police, Rodweller reportedly fled.
State police and game wardens searched for Rodweller and later found him about a quarter mile away, hiding in tall grass at the edge of his property.
Rodweller, a former police officer in Hamilton, N.J., has denied aiming his rifle at the Lipskys. In fact, he previously stated that it was the Lipskys who initiated the confrontation and who first pointed a loaded rifle at him.
When he was still a police officer in Hamilton Township, N.J., Rodweller was charged with firearms and property damage violations after he fired several shots from a revolver while hunting in that state. One of the shots struck a house.
He later was charged with obstruction of government administration when he allegedly drilled out the barrel of the revolver to make it more difficult for investigators to match the firearm with the bullet that struck the house.
Charges were dropped after police determined that the shot was accidental. Rodweller was placed on probation and his criminal record was expunged of the incident after a year. He resigned from the police force in May 1994.
If convicted on the latest charges, Rodweller faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for each charge of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, a felony. The assault and criminal trespass charges each carry a penalty of up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.
Carrying a loaded weapon in a motor vehicle and possession of an illegal hunting license each carry a penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.