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Friday, June 14, 2024

Heavily intoxicated man tampers with traffic lights at Ocala intersection

An Ocala man who has been arrested more than 40 times since 2008 is back behind bars after he allegedly tampered with a signal box that controls the traffic lights at a major intersection in southwest Ocala.

On Saturday, May 25, at around 11 a.m., a Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputy responded to the intersection of SW 80th Avenue and SW Highway 200 in Ocala in reference to assisting Marion County Fire Rescue with inoperable traffic lights, according to the arrest report.

The deputy arrived on scene and observed a man, identified as Christopher Todd Piscitelli, who was sitting in a wheelchair on the side of the road, near the intersection of SW 80th Avenue and SW Highway 200. The report stated that there was a “large amount of debris” around him, which included “numerous empty 1.75 liter bottles of suspected alcoholic wine.”

Christopher Todd Piscitelli, 45, of Ocala
Christopher Todd Piscitelli, 45, of Ocala

An MCFR captain told the deputy that a witness had reported seeing a man tampering with the traffic signal control system box. Upon arrival at the intersection, the captain stated that the traffic lights were not operational, and traffic had begun to back up.

According to the MCFR captain’s statement, Piscitelli was observed around 50 yards away from the traffic signal box, and he was allegedly tampering with the water department’s piping valves. When the captain approached the traffic signal box, a “green anti-tamper device” was observed on the ground beneath the main panel, and the main power switch appeared to be in the “off” position.

The deputy made contact with Piscitelli and noted in the report that he appeared to be “heavily intoxicated.” He was sitting in a folding chair near the side of the road and consuming a large bottle of wine straight out of the bottle.

The report stated that Piscitelli’s eyes were “bloodshot,” and he had a “strong odor of alcohol.”

When the deputy asked about the traffic lights at the intersection being inoperable, Piscitelli referred to the lights as being a “soft target.” He further stated that the traffic signal box was previously unlocked, and he denied touching the control panel, according to the report.

Piscitelli also allegedly told the deputy that he was turning the water pipe valves off and on because they were a “soft target.”

An eyewitness spoke with the deputy and advised that Piscitelli was observed standing at the traffic signal box while the panel door was open. According to a statement from the eyewitness, Piscitelli appeared to “stumble” away” from the control panel as if electrocuted, and the eyewitness then noticed that the traffic lights at the intersection were out.

MCFR paramedics medically evaluated Piscitelli at the scene, and he refused any treatment.

Piscitelli was arrested and transported to Marion County Jail, where he is currently being held on a $5,000 bond. He is facing the following charges: disorderly intoxication and intentionally interrupting the transmittal of data to or from, or gaining unauthorized access to, a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device belonging to any mode of public or private transit.

A court date has been scheduled at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 25.

Marion County Jail records show that since 2008, Piscitelli has been arrested more than 40 times. In 2018, he was arrested by MCSO for panhandling on SW Highway 200 while wearing a pink bra.