On a normal day, you’d find Vitiello fishing at the pier. Now he’s fighting a battery charge after a female officer claims he went beyond the bounds of acceptable and put his hand on her face.
“I’ve never heard something like this before here on the pier. To me it’s impossible to think Frank would do something like this,” said angler Doina Ciabuca.
What the fisherman is accused of doing over the weekend landed him in jail.
“Bad things happen when people raise their hands to you,” said pier visitor Rich Emmert.
Around noon Saturday, Beach Patrol Specialist Casey Bollenback was talking with a group of fishermen about the city’s new fishing ordinances. City council recently banned treble hooks to protect pelicans.
It was during that conversation the officer says Vitiello reached out and touched her.
“Public servants have a very difficult job. They have to enforce rules and regulations,” said pier visitor John Boyle.
When Bollenback told Vitiello that his action wasn’t OK, she says he appeared agitated and walked away.
According to the incident report, Vitiello admitted to “patting her on the face to comfort her” and saying “It’s OK.” He told them he didn’t want Bollenback to feel like the fishermen were ganging up on her.
“I’ve known Frank for over 10 years. He’s a wonderful guy, helpful, helping everybody around here — the pelicans too,” Ciabuca said.
The Naples Police Department arrested Vitiello, charging him with battery.
People we spoke with were split whether the punishment fits this alleged crime. The majority agreed Vitiello crossed the line.
One visitor said there is a legal way he could’ve handled it.
“We do have freedom of speech. We don’t have freedom of battery,” Boyle said.
Police say Vitiello is not barred from the pier and the police department is not changing pier ordinance enforcement because of Vitiello’s arrest.