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Judge finds Colby man guilty of disorderly conduct

Clark County Judge Lyndsey Brunette found a Colby man guilty of disorderly conduct on Monday in a case related to ongoing tensions between neighbors that came to a head last October.

Michael Kreciak, 58, had pled not guilty to the charge after receiving a municipal citation last year from the Colby-Abbotsford Police Department, following a verbal altercation with the neighbors across the street from his house on South Sixth Street.

An officer was dispatched to the neighborhood on the morning of Oct. 26, 2019, after Kreciak’s neighbor, Al Hardrath, called to complain that Kreciak was yelling at his wife, Diane Hardrath.

Kreciak claimed the Hardraths’ vehicle had driven over a pile of leaves he had raked onto the street for the city to pick up. He said it happened once on that Friday night and again on the Saturday morning when the police were called.

After Al Hardrath backed his vehicle into his driveway that morning, Kreciak walked to the end of his driveway and verbally confronted Diane Hardrath, according to accounts from both parties.

Kreciak says he spoke to her in a “calm and civilized manner” about not driving through his leaf pile, and in response, he claims she started yelling and swearing at him, so he walked away.

Diane Hardrath remembers the incident differently, alleging that Kreciak was the one shouting at her and acting aggressively.

“He was yelling, his arms were in the air, pointing at me, coming to the end of his driveway. I was pretty threatened by that. I did not know what he was going to do next,” she said during testimony to Judge Brunette at a Aug. 24 hearing.

Lt. Alex Bowman of the CAPD responded to the call from Al Hardrath and spoke to both parties that morning before deciding later to send Kreciak a citation through the mail.

Lt. Bowman told Judge Brunette that Kreciak admitted to yelling at Diane Hardrath and apologized for his actions. Kreciak says his apology was not for yelling, but for the officer having to waste his time on the call.

Kreciak thought that footage from his home camera system would prove that his neighbors were the ones acting in a disorderly way, not him.

After reviewing the videos, which did not have audio, Judge Brunette said they did not offer much in the way of evidence to support Kreciak’s case. Aside from “a little bit of arm-waving,” she said it was hard to see much of the confrontation.

Kreciak said the Oct. 26 incident was part of a long-standing dispute between him and the Hardraths, much of which has involved their dogs allegedly being loose outside and creating messes near his mailbox. He claims local police have been slow to respond to his complaints.

Judge Brunette said she was only concerned with the events that led to him to being ticketed.

“Ongoing disputes that happened on previous days don’t necessarily mean that it’s relevant as to how you reacted on Oct. 26,” she told Kreciak.

Kreciak was ordered to pay a $200.50 fine and was given 60 days to do so.