This conviction stems from the zoning case that just won't go away. Two years ago, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined to get involved in the proposed business expansion of Elias Market, located on Linden Street in Bethlehem. That should have ended a case that spawned multiple zoning hearing board decisions, a lost transcript that required more hearings and numerous court reviews along the way. Despite losing at every step, an increasingly small group of neighbors calling itself the Bethlehem Homeowners Association, has continued the fight with a litany of complaints to the City. That in turn has resulted in several enforcement actions. In September, when one of these enforcement actions was dismissed, six police officers had to calm down Yong Hao, an Elias opponent who lost his composure and began pointing at affable Chairman Gus Loupos.
Al Bernotas was at that time already facing three counts of harassment for following an Elias delivery truck from Bethlehem to Allentown in April, ostensibly to prove that the business is involved in wholesale distribution. Wherever the truck went, he went, Wherever the truck stopped, so did he. He also snapped pictures. A spooked driver called Elias, and a private criminal complaint charging three counts of harassment against Bernotas was approved by DA Jim Martin.
Bernotas disputed allegations that he directed profanities at the driver, and vowed he will continue following the trucks because "my name is Al Bernotas."
The case against Bernotas was presented by distinguished Bethlehem Attorney Richard Pepper, a long-time prosecutor. The matter had to be continued several times to arrange for an Arabic translator. Bernotas was represented by Kathryn Elizabeth Roberts, who is reputedly an excellent Allentown criminal defense lawyer
Prior to the hearing, on this very blog, Bernotas called Joe Elias the "Godfather." He also suggested that the driver he followed might flee to Iraq, where he could support Muqtadā al-Ṣadr.
I don't think that helped him.
He was convicted and fined $200, but at Pepper's request, this was reduced to "a finding of guilt without further penalty" because "these people need to get along in their neighborhood."