East Hampton Dog Owner Charged with Vigilantism

Barking dachshund
Photo: Anna Yakimova/123RF

Acting on a tip, the Hamptons Police on Thursday raided an East Hampton home and arrested the property owner, Lionel Bolling. The police allege that the basement of Bolling’s home contained apparatus that was being used in plans to illegally inflict “cruel and unusual punishment” upon his neighbor.

“This was the culmination of a long-running dispute,” Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch says. “Mr. Bolling’s neighbor keeps a rather large number of dogs as pets, and the two had been squabbling over dog-related issues for years.”

According to Hirsch, over the years Bolling had taken issue with barking that went on at all hours of the day and night, and had threatened to get animal control officers involved. Bolling had also complained of large amounts of dog feces winding up on his property, accusing his neighbor of failing to confine his animals to his own property or to clean up after them. “There was a lot of tension in this relationship, in other words,” Hirsch says.

The tension had ratcheted up about two months ago, say other residents of the neighborhood, after several of the neighbor’s dogs went missing when a gate along the 12-foot-high fence separating the properties was discovered open. Bolling denied he had done this, but received what he called “threatening letters” from lawyers representing the neighbor. After the missing dogs returned home and neighbor added four more pups to the mix, “Mr. Bolling became increasingly unhinged about the whole situation,” according to a nearby resident.

The dispute between Mr. Bolling and the potential victim raged on until the victim disappeared from the neighborhood about three weeks ago. “Neighbors just assumed he had gone someplace sunny for the winter,” Hirsch says, “and we got a call to come investigate.”

The reality they discovered was much darker than that. The official report says that the items found in the basement of Bolling’s home include a digital movie projector, the speaker system reported stolen from the last Metallica world tour, a 40-foot-high inflatable screen and 43 Blu-Ray DVD copies of the film 101 Dalmatians. It appears that Bolling had been planning to put the screen up against the fence and screen the movie nonstop above his neighbor’s yard.

“Mr. Bolling seems to have decided to take matters of the law and justice into his own hands,” Hirsch says, “acting as judge and jury and ready to sentence his neighbor to torture with continuous viewing of this film. We can only imagine the irreparable harm that might have been done to both the homeowner and the dogs.” When pressed, Hirsch allowed that 101 Dalmatians is a quite an entertaining film, but, he was quick to add, “that’s not the point.”

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