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Man convicted for years-long harassment of Judge Ray Carroll

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Man convicted for years-long harassment of Judge Ray Carroll

Green Valley real estate agent Scaramella sentenced after trial over targeting former Pima County supervisor

  • Michael G. Scaramella
    Michael G. Scaramella

A Green Valley real estate agent was sentenced Friday to 30 days of home detention for continuing to menace a local judge despite a court order to stay away.

The sentencing came minutes after Michael G. Scaramella was found guilty on two misdemeanor counts of interfering with a judicial proceeding and failure to comply with an Injunction Against Harassment.

Justice of the Peace Ray Carroll's testimony and more than two dozen sheriff's reports paint a picture of the elected judge living the past two years looking over his shoulder.

"He tormented my wife and myself," Carroll told the court before Scaramella's sentencing. "It's not because of COVID I don't go out, it's because of Mr. Scaramella. I just want this person to leave us alone."

Carroll — a former Pima County supervisor who is now an elected judge for the Justice Court in Green Valley — said he developed a stutter, his wife dropped out of activities and he got approval to bring a gun to the courthouse. He also said his wife spent months out of state in part over fears for her safety after they said Scaramella harassed them on the road, staked out parking lots and intersections looking for them, and spent hours parked on their street.

Scaramella was sentenced to 180 days in detention, with 150 days suspended provided he abides by the injunction. He also must undergo mental health and alcohol evaluations.

Pro Tem Judge John Davis, who presided over Friday's bench trial, said Scaramella could be jailed or sentenced to home detention for the suspended 150 days if he violates terms of the sentence. Justice Courts rarely send people to jail, though Davis said it was a possibility if health conditions at the county jail improve.

Scaramella, 65, has another court date March 15, and is expected to start serving home detention a day later. He will be allowed to leave home for work.

The three-hour trial was the latest entry in a saga that has played out over nearly three years. Carroll's first interaction with Scaramella was during a routine case in 2019 in his Green Valley courtroom.

According to Doug Levy, one of Carroll's attorneys, "All the judge was doing was his job."

• • •

Ray Carroll has been a justice of the peace since 2017, and signing Orders of Protection and Injunctions Against Harassment is routine. They keep people apart, safe and out of jail, if they are followed.

In 2019, he signed an Order of Protection for a woman against her live-in boyfriend, Michael Scaramella. She sought it after an altercation at their Green Valley home.

The woman obtained the court order March 8, 2019, and Scaramella was served by a deputy at the home about 5:30 p.m. that day. Scaramella was uncooperative and tossed the court paperwork out of his car window as he drove off, according to a sheriff's report. Scaramella then texted the woman five times over the next 90 minutes in violation of the order, according to reports, asking her to meet him for dinner. "I miss you. I'm sorry. Come please eat dinner with me. I'll pay for you," some of the texts read.

Scaramella was arrested that evening at the Coyote Grill in Green Valley on suspicion of Domestic Violence/Failure to Comply with a Court Order. He was released a day later, and the woman told deputies she received a call from his number shortly thereafter, "but no one said anything and immediately hung up," according to a report.

Scaramella challenged the Order of Protection on March 27, writing in court paperwork, "I deeply regret my outburst and realize I need help coping with my frustrations and anger… I've never acted out like this."

The order was upheld by Carroll.

Through the rest of 2019 and into early 2020, the woman made several more reports to the Pima County Sheriff's Department, none of which ended with charges or arrests, but all mentioning Scaramella. Among the reports:

• On July 8, 2019, she reportedly saw her neighbor, who she called a smoking buddy of Scaramella, taking photos of her backyard shortly before meeting him at the pool. She told the deputy she thought "Michael put (the neighbor) up to this." She was told by deputies there was no law broken.

• In October 2019, the woman called deputies because Scaramella was in the neighborhood helping somebody work on a car. Scaramella was cooperative with deputies and moved his vehicle, which was near the woman's home, according to a report.

• In December 2019, the woman reported Scaramella was at a neighbor's house, in violation of the 250 feet the court order stipulated. But incorrect information from a deputy who believed the court order didn't apply to her residence hampered action, according to a report.

Then Scaramella started tangling with Carroll.

In March 2020, Carroll made his first call to the Pima County Sheriff's Department regarding Scaramella. He reported that Scaramella was at a home across the street from his, which the real estate agent had listed for sale, and took pictures of Carroll when he went outside.

Carroll later said Scaramella was at the home "24/7, he practically lived there" and knew the judge lived across the street and was trying to intimidate him. Deputies reached Scaramella three days later and he denied taking photos; he said he was simply picking weeds at the home he had up for sale. Carroll was advised to call 911 about any further incidents.

Reports continued through 2020, and included the woman's ex-husband, two of her friends who had a run-in with Scaramella, and a neighbor with whom Scaramella had a bloody scuffle. The neighbor was prosecuted after a physical altercation brought on after Scaramella started taking video of the man in his backyard for no apparent reason.

By early 2021, Carroll had had enough.

On Feb. 12, he obtained an Injunction Against Harassment against Scaramella. He cited three incidents in January 2021 alone, including being followed "for miles" to work; obscene gestures on the road; and said Scaramella had been parking on his block and in his neighborhood "dozens of times for hours at a time" for a year.

On June 30, 2021, Carroll asked the court to modify the order to keep Scaramella 1,000 feet from him and 500 feet from the intersection of Camino del Sol and Camino Estelar, where he said he'd seen him many times and is not far from Carroll's home.

On June 29, 2021, Carroll's wife, Ann, also obtained an Injunction Against Harassment against Scaramella, out of Sahuarita Municipal Court. Her paperwork cited four incidents including "aggressive tailgating," an obscene gesture and "stalking and following" her in his vehicle.

Familiar case

In the middle of it all, a similar case played out involving another Pima County judge, which weighed heavy on Carroll's mind.

In that case, Justice of the Peace Adam Watters experienced weeks of harassment at his home that included stalking and slashed tires. In February 2021, it led to a confrontation with a man named Fei Qin in front of Watters' home, where the judge fired a gun into the road. Qin was sentenced to 18 months in prison last month.

In both cases the judges were targeted by people on the receiving end of bad news from the courts — the Order of Protection on Scaramella from Carroll, and Watters' declining to evict one of Qin's tenants because of a CDC eviction moratorium.

The cases are different in that Watters' wrapped up relatively quickly while Carroll's case dragged on — until two incidents in 2021 turned it into a front-burner issue for law enforcement and the courts.

April and October

About 8 a.m. on April 2, 2021, Carroll was driving to work when he saw Scaramella's vehicle coming toward him.

According to a PCSD report, Carroll said Scaramella "raised both middle fingers at him as he drove by while he was smoking a cigar."

Carroll took photos, which were overexposed and didn't clearly show the incident. Even so, and in part due to Scaramella's history, the deputy determined there was enough probable cause for a violation of the court order.

"I believe that Mr. Scaramella made it a point to harass Judge Carroll as often as he could," the deputy wrote. But instead of arresting Scaramella, the deputy was told to send the case to the Pima County Attorney's Office for a decision. No action was taken.

More than six months later, on Oct. 15, 2021, Carroll caught a break, in part because of his new habit of keeping his cell phone camera handy when on the road. He took photos of Scaramella in his 2006 gold Infiniti violating the court order by being within 500 feet of the intersection at Camino del Sol and Camino Estelar.

He called the Sheriff's Department and Scaramella was tracked down and arrested. He was uncooperative and it took two deputies to get him out of his car. Later in court, Scaramella would deny it was his vehicle at the intersection. He spent one night in jail before being released and had no contact with Carroll until their court case Friday.

The trial

Taking action against Scaramella proved difficult because of the pandemic and because nearly the entire slate of judges in Consolidated Justice Court — Carroll's colleagues — recused themselves.

On Friday, the state — Carroll as a victim — was represented by City of Tucson prosecutor Vinny D'Arquea; Carroll also had Levy, a civil attorney, at his side. Scaramella, who has gone through several court-appointed and private attorneys, was represented by criminal defense attorney Nicholas Brereton.

The first 90 minutes were spent trying to reach a plea deal, which failed when Levy and Carroll disagreed with it because they said it let Scaramella off lightly. Addressing the court, Carroll said he wanted Scaramella to serve at least 60 days in jail.

"I assure you I've spent 60 sleepless nights worrying about my family," he said.

Judge Davis agreed the plea deal was "insufficient" and the trial began immediately. Levy called it "a layup of a case," and it played out that way over the next three hours.

Scaramella's attorney, Brereton, pushed a point that his client was never served the modified Injunction Against Harassment, then was displeased when what he called "an 11th hour" document was shown in court, indicating it had been served.

Scaramella stumbled on the stand when he insisted he always drove around the intersection he wasn't supposed to be at, costing him an extra six miles in travel time. But D'Arquea pointed out that Scaramella insisted he didn't know about the modified order banning him from the intersection— so why avoid it?

Scaramella often shook his head as others testified on the stand and at least twice ignored his lawyer's advice and spoke out.

"I'm tired of listening to these lies all day," he said just before sentencing. "I've been harassed and it's cost me a lot of money and that's his goal, to run me out of Green Valley."

Brereton indicated they would appeal the guilty verdicts.

Scaramella isn't done with court yet. A Green Valley couple have a case pending against him for violating a court order. The couple, friends of the woman who lived with Scaramella, said he flipped them off, tailgated and harassed them on the road as they left her home in February 2021.

The woman who once lived with Scaramella and still has an Order of Protection against him gave deputies a video last month she said shows him driving by her in her neighborhood while she was out for a walk on Jan. 27.

This report was first published by the Green Valley News.

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