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Schenectady man admits driveway barricade

Schenectady man admits driveway barricade

The Schenectady pizza shop owner arrested last fall after identifying himself as a police investigat

The Schenectady pizza shop owner arrested last fall after identifying himself as a police investigator accepted a plea deal for a charge of disorderly conduct, a violation.

Djovalin “Jon” Camaj, 67, of 32 Booth St., Albany on Thursday was ordered to stay away from the Western Shrine property in Auriesville, owned by the Chinese Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization, and any other properties the group owns in Montgomery County.

Camaj was initially charged with trespass Nov. 9 after the Buddhists called police to report the driveway to their Western Shrine, formerly the Jesuit Retreat House owned by the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs, was barricaded.

The barricade included a highway construction sign, orange mason’s twine strung several hundred feet around trees, a glass jar of peppers and a statue of a pizza man holding a pizza.

An investigator from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s department spoke with staff at the nearby Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs who said the suspect’s description matched a man named John who owns a pizza restaurant in Schenectady.

The investigator went to the Pizza King restaurant on Jay Street in Schenectady where, according to a report on the investigation, Camaj admitted to barricading the driveway at 4 a.m. Nov. 9.

“John stated that he was upset that the church had sold the property to the monks and that he was not happy with how they operate their vehicles on the roadway through the shrine and that they have their own private driveway so he placed the barricade there and left his statue along with a menu from the restaurant,” the investigation report states.

Two days later, state police got a call from the Buddhists saying Camaj returned to the Western Shrine.

There, he stood in the driveway, blocking a car occupied by Buddhist students Joshua Rosenstein, Flora Wang and Jennie Wong.

Rosenstein got out of the car and asked Camaj who he was, and Camaj handed Rosenstein the business card he was given by Montgomery County Sheriff’s investigator Barry W. Serpa during his first arrest.

Rosenstein asked Camaj if the number on the card was his and asked for more identification, but Camaj responded, “I am not showing you my ID. Do you want to see my gun?” Police then charged Camaj with second-degree criminal impersonation, a misdemeanor.

Following discussions between Camaj’s attorney, Ken Litz of Schenectady, and Assistant District Attorney John N. Clo, Camaj appeared before Justice Thomas J. Murray in Glen Town Court Thursday and pleaded to disorderly conduct.

Murray also issued an order of protection for the Buddhists and their property, and explained to Camaj the seriousness of the order. Murray told Camaj he could be sent to jail for up to seven years for violating the order.

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