HINCKLEY, Ohio — An 85-year-old Hinckley man is now a convicted litterbug.
And it’s all Donald Trump’s fault.
Or maybe Joe Biden is to blame.
As with seemingly everything these days, the answer depends on your political point of view.
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To retired teacher Gerald Dolcini, his conviction on two littering charges last fall, as well as the third charge he picked up while appealing his case, is a freedom of speech violation.
“I was, yeah. I was angry because spending all these hours, I was hoping to inform the public more,” Dolcini told 3News Investigates.
To one of his littering victims, planting a Trump flag in their front yard is also a First Amendment right. And they didn’t like what Dolcini was leaving in their driveway - about a dozen times.
“Ignorance, I guess would be the right word,” said Cindy Radesic, 67.
It all traces back to 2020 (doesn’t everything?). As the presidential election heated up, so did Dolcini. He was determined to help Biden and other Democrats win the campaign.
Either by bicycle or car, Dolcini would spend his day passing out Democratic Party materials.
“I would stop at the Democratic headquarters in Brunswick to pick up more, because I would run out, Dolcini said. “So I had to make probably two stops a week to pick up a bundle.”
After the election, Dolcini didn’t stop. There were midterm elections to consider. And also his Bellus Road neighbors and their pesky Trump signs that haven’t gone away despite Biden’s victory.
All three of Dolcini’s littering victims live on the same winding, rural road that runs through the heart of Hinckley. They all support Republican causes and have a distinct dislike for Biden.
For months, the Radesics would find a plastic bag [usually a recycled vegetable, bread or Subway sandwich bag] filled with Democratic platitudes, scolding handwritten notes, as well as environmental causes waiting on their lawn or driveway.
Who was leaving the materials was not immediately clear. The motive seemed obvious. The yard includes a U.S. and Trump flag and multiple pro-GOP yard signs that stay up all year long.
“I would have assumed this person throwing it was hoping it would make me not keep my signs up,” Radesic said. “But what it did was, I’d come into the house and I’d say to the kids, that’s it. I got another package. I’m going on the internet, I’m getting another sign.”
Each plastic bag was met with a new sign, either boasting about Trump or bashing Biden.
As time went on, the plastic bags or the contents would blow around their yard, they said. Notes left behind seemed more threatening. The Radesics and another Bellus Road family contacted police in the summer of 2022.
One of the bags had a reused flier that bore Dolcini’s name. Police had their man.
“I was brought in because one resident out of hundreds complained,” Dolcini said. “She was from the opposite viewpoint, and, they had many, many signs in their yard, uh, stating how they felt about the environment and the police…so we have a divided community. like we have a divided state and a divided country.”
Radesic said she just wants to be free to express herself from her yard without rebuttal. She estimates she’s cleaned up a dozen Dolcini drops.
“He thought he could quiet me, but he lit a fire, more like putting fuel in the fire,” she said. “I just thought, 'you think I’m going to stop because you’re giving me some notes? Heck no.' I was offended by what he did. I don’t know who else he did it to, but I was not going to change. I was going to stick to my guns.”
Dolcini said he has spent at least $4,000 defending himself. His attorneys would not respond to messages seeking comment.
In October, he was given 30 hours of community service and fines and court costs of about $700 following his trial on the two littering cases. His appeal is pending.
He’s due in Medina Municipal Court in February for a pretrial hearing on the third case brought in November.
“Yes, I feel like my constitutional rights have been violated,” he said. “Pending a resolution, I'm not gonna say anything about the opposition or anything else about it. I'll let the trial confirm what will be.”
As for Radesic, she isn’t backing down either.
“I have freedom of speech and I’m not hurting anyone by putting signs on my property,” she said. “If you don’t like it, don’t look at it. Keep driving by because I get more beeps than I do fingers.”
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