Olympia man pleads not guilty to intimidating judge

Staff writerMay 29, 2014 

An Olympia man entered not guilty pleas Thursday to two counts of intimidating Thurston County Family Court Commissioner Jonathon Lack.

The charges against Timothy Petrozzi include allegations that he threatened the judge during an April 9 court hearing on his pending divorce, and again hours later, at an Olympia restaurant, court papers state.

Petrozzi sat down next to Lack at Ramblin' Jack's restaurant April 9, the same day Lack ruled against Petrozzi in his divorce case, court papers state. When Lack got up to leave, Petrozzi followed him outside and said, "Are you afraid I'm going to embarrass you in public?" Petrozzi also is accused of saying words to the effect of, "you'll wish you were back in Alaska," court papers state.

Petrozzi, 35, pleaded not guilty to the two felony counts Thursday before visiting Pierce County Superior Court Judge Garold Johnson. Petrozzi is currently out of custody after posting $10,000 bail.

Petrozzi's defense attorney, Andrew Stave, declined comment except to say that his client is innocent of the charges.

As a condition of Petrozzi's release, he is ordered to have no contact with Commissioner Lack.

Visiting Pierce County Superior Court Judge Johnson heard Petrozzi's criminal case Thursday because all Thurston County Superior Court Judges have recused themselves from hearing a case involving a colleague.

According to court records, Petrozzi became incensed during the April 9 divorce hearing when Lack refused to grant Petrozzi's petition for a protection order against his estranged wife. Petrozzi is said to have shouted obscenities and sworn at Lack. As Lack was headed to his chambers, court papers say Petrozzi followed Lack to a court administration area and said, "There you are, I'm going to get you."

Petrozzi's outburst frightened both court staff and civilians in the courtroom, court papers state. And Lack told courthouse security that the courtroom outburst "had him completely concerned for his physical safety and he felt that Petrozzi may harm him, given the opportunity."

During the hearing, Lack renewed an existing protection order against Petrozzi, ordering him to stay away from his estranged wife, court papers state. In her earlier petition for a protection order, Petrozzi's wife wrote that he "destroyed the inside of my home in a rage, he has pushed me around and slapped me, he has dragged me around the house causing injury."

Petrozzi has a pending felony hit-and-run case for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol and then leaving the scene of an accident in Thurston County in June 2013. He also has a second pending misdemeanor DUI charge in Thurston County District Court.

In 2005, Petrozzi was charged with felony harassment in Thurston County District Court when he told his ex-girlfriend he would "drive his car through her parents home." The felony harassment charge against Petrozzi was dismissed when he completed a diversion program in August 2006.

Court staff who interviewed Petrozzi's family wrote that he "has been having a very hard time emotionally and financially since his dissolution started last year." The pretrial services report also noted that "obviously, his emotional stability is deteriorating."

 

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445; jpawloski@theolympian.com

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