Friday, October 9, 2009

Those Must Have Been Some Love Letters

John Celetti, formerly of Florence, is not a lucky man, either in money or love. In 2005, the then 55 year-old Celetti worked for Net Related, an Internet service provider. The company closed abruptly in February of that year, leaving Celetti and 44 co-workers without a job and owing them a paycheck for 80 hours of work. Celetti complained to several local and state agencies, among them the Lauderdale County District Attorney's office which refused to act in the case . Unfortunately, little could be done under the circumstances; whether Celetti harbors hard feelings about the 2005 incident or not, he certainly has plenty to say about a more recent event involving Lauderdale authorities.

In October 2008, John Celetti was living in a rented home and dating Judy Lynn Ray. After a disagreement, Ray set fire to the Hough Road home and stole Celetti's automobile in which to make her escape. Judy Lynn Ray was later traced to her mother's home in Hampton, Mississippi, and returned to Florence to face charges. Since March 17th, she has been held in the Lauderdale Detention Center on a $55,000.00 bond.

The state originally charged Ray with first degree arson and first degree theft; however, earlier this week, Lauderdale District Attorney Chris Connolly allowed Judy Lynn Ray to plead guilty to third degree arson and the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Ray is now free with time served and probation, and John Celetti has made his displeasure with Connolly's actions well known.

Just why did Chris Connolly allow Ray to plead to such lesser charges? It seems that during the five month period between the fire and Judy Lynn Ray's arrest, John Celetti not only knew the whereabouts of his former girlfriend, he had been writing her love letters in which he begged her to return to him. Connolly stated that Ray's defense attorney Vickie Willard would have used the letters in her client's defense.

John Celetti, who now lives in Danville in Morgan County, states that he's heartbroken by Chris Connolly's actions. After all, he states, the love letters were merely an attempt to lure Judy Lynn Ray back to Lauderdale County to face the charges he brought against her. Really, Mr. Celetti? Wouldn't it have been easier to have simply provided the authorities with Ms. Ray's address in Mississippi? At least this case proves that the Internet and e-mail have not completely replaced the old-fashioned, hand-written billet-doux.

Notice: Tomorrow's Fire Prevention Month activities at Lowe's in Florence have been canceled due to the possibility of extreme weather. Morris Lentz will announce a new time for the program at a later date.