[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on SILive.com, where I was a breaking news intern from January to August 2016.]
The woman arrested for allegedly sending a series of bizarre mailings to the private homes of Assemblyman Ronald Castorina Jr. volunteers for his primary opponent, Castorina revealed on Saturday.
Marylynn Cellamare, 55, of Port Richmond, was arrested Friday and charged with second-degree aggravated harassment and fourth-degree stalking after, authorities allege, she sent the packages, many of which contained a sheet of paper with the word “greetings” on it, to the Republican’s private addresses.
Castorina said the defendant was a campaign volunteer for Janine Materna, who is mounting a primary challenge on the Republican line for his South Shore Assembly seat in September.
Castorina said he believes Cellamare sent the letters to his private homes in an attempt to prove he lives out of district. He said he received the letters in his Richmond Valley home, his summer home in the New Jersey shore and his parents’ residence.
“It is shocking that Ms. Materna would have a woman that is so emotionally disturbed and mentally unstable work on her campaign,” said Castorina. “This woman not only made phone calls on her behalf, but also, she was part of a round table discussion on heroin — one of the most important issues facing our district.”
He said Materna’s inability to recognize her mental illness “is demonstrative of a total lack of judgement,” and if she did notice and “fanned the flames, then it’s indicative of a total moral corruption on her behalf.”
“I hope that this emotionally disturbed person gets the help that she desperately needs, and that my family is left alone,” he said.
Cellamare was arraigned Saturday and released on her own recognizance. She also was issued an order of protection from any type of contact with Castorina.
When reached by the Advance Saturday evening, Materna confirmed the woman was a volunteer for her campaign, but had not heard about the arrest until informed by a reporter and was unable to comment on the suspect’s alleged motive.
She said Cellamare reached out to her because she felt “very disgruntled” over what she felt was Castorina’s lack of “compassion” about the death of her son to heroin addiction a few years ago.
As for Castorina’s remarks that Materna brought on an “emotionally disturbed” volunteer, Materna said:
“This woman lost a son to heroin, and to close the door on her and show no compassion when there’s a heroin epidemic here on Staten Island is disgusting. Instead of closing his doors to families who have lost something in this community, he should be opening his doors asking people how we can help them in times of need. The loss of a child is a pain that no parent should have to deal with.”
Castorina maintains he had never met or spoken to Cellamare before.
The incidents began around 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday, when Castorina received three FedEx envelopes at two different personal addresses, sent by Cellamare, containing a white sheet of paper with the word “greetings,” according to allegations in the criminal complaint.
The letters were mailed from Post Office branch at 364 Port Richmond Ave. a day prior and had a return address with the defendant’s name on it, authorities allege.
At noon that same day, Castorina received a notice from FedEx at a personal address regarding a package waiting at the company’s office at 2400 Richmond Terrace. That package also contained a white sheet of paper with the word “greetings” on it, police said.
And on Friday, Cellamare was inside her home when she dialed the assemblyman and continuously stated “Mr. Castorina, Mr. Castorina, hello,” police allege.
The suspect allegedly admitted to police sending the packages, but told authorities “I don’t recall calling the assemblyman, but I might have,” the complaint states.