Keeping kids busy in the summer is paramount for many parents, although not enough to land most of them in jail. But that's where Janet Chiauzzi, 44, found herself after allegedly threatening a Little League official when her son didn't make the summer travel team in East Meadow, N.Y.
"This is a tragic situation and horrible for the community," said Stew MacKay, one of the presidents of the East Meadow Little League on Long Island. "When you deal with children and parents running things, it gets dicey."
Nassau County police allege that a league official and his son received threatening letters from Chiauzzi May 21 after her son did not make the team. In the letters, according to the allegations, Chiauzzi also threatened the official's wife and daughter. Both of his children are younger than 14.
Less than two weeks later, police said, the principal of the children's school received letters from Chiauzzi claiming that the Little League official had abused his children. The Nassau County Child Protective Services investigated the accusations and found them to be groundless.
But Chiauzzi didn't stop there, authorities said. She allegedly sent six more letters to the Little League "attempting to defame the victim and force his removal as an official," according to police.
Chiauzzi was arrested on stalking charges Saturday night.
She has been charged with four counts of stalking, two counts of falsely reporting an incident, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and four counts of aggravated harassment.
Chiauzzi was arraigned Sunday and later released from jail on $6,000 bail, according to the Nassau County Correctional Center. She could not be reached for comment.
Vinny Cafiso, who was on the Little League board for seven years before pulling out when his son no longer wanted to play, said, "It used to be a great program" but the executive board is "trying to run it as a business instead of a volunteer program.
"It's about personal satisfaction and power," Cafiso said. "There are kids that have been on the travel team forever and aren't anymore because a bunch of new kids are on the team. It has nothing to do with the kids; it's more about the parents."
Chiauzzi is expected to appear in court again Wednesday.