NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Peter Parente, Commander of VFW Post 459 in New Rochelle was arrested at his home Wednesday by New Rochelle police on domestic violence and weapons charges. He is married with two children.
Parente remained in lockup at the New Rochelle Police Station over the Thanksgiving holiday. He is expected to be arraigned Friday morning at New Rochelle City Court.
After a report with Westchester County Child Protective Services earlier in the week, police came to the home. According to sources familiar with the incident, police asked Parente if there were any guns in the home. After initially refusing to open a gun safe in the home, Parente relented and opened the gun safe. Inside police found an illegal sawed-off single barrel shotgun. Parente resisted arrest. It took four police officers to subdue him before he was placed in a police car and taken to police headquarters to be booked.
Parente is a well-known figure in Westchester County for his leadership role on veterans affairs and patriotic events. Parente is best known as the organizer of the New Rochelle Memorial Day Parade, which under his leadership became one of the largest parades in Westchester County. A highlight of the annual event was the landing of military aircraft at Hudson Park during a post-parade barbecue and concert. After a dispute with City officials several years ago, Parente discontinued the parade and organized a Veterans Appreciation Day event at Glen Island Park, a facility in New Rochelle but run by the Westchester County Parks Department.
Parente has been a leader in the Save Our Armory movement which fought for years against efforts by City officials to demolish the former New York State Naval Armory on East Main Street. The City obtained the Armory property when it was deeded to the City for $1.00 in 1997 through the efforts of former New York State Assemblyman Ronald C. Tocci.
In 2010, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson asked then-State Assemblyman George Latimer, now Westchester County Executive-elect, to push through a last-minute “home rule” bill in the closing hours of the legislative session. The bill would have granted authority for the City to demolish the Armory building. The Save Our Armory group successfully rallied veterans across Westchester County to oppose the bill which was quickly withdrawn.
As President of the United Veterans Memorial & Patriotic Association of New Rochelle (“UVMPA”), Parente held a city charter to maintain patriotic displays in New Rochelle including maintaining a flag pole at the Armory. Parente made national headlines when he authorized the raising of a Gadsden Flag along with an American Flag at the Armory. City officials removed the flag after City Council Member Jared Rice complained that residents found the Gadsden Flag offensive. The UVMPA sued the City in a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court which declined to take up the case leaving in place a lower court ruling siding with the City of New Rochelle.
In 2016, Parente organized a “Blue Lives Matter” rally in front of City Hall after NRPD Sergeant Christopher Castiglia was suspended after he posted remarks on Facebook critical of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Parente has been a vocal, and often profane, opponent of Bramson and other Democrats on City Council. In 2010, Parente ran on the Republican line in a special election in District 3 to fill the unexpired term of James Stowe who died in office. Parente was defeated by Jared Rice who went on to win two full terms in his own right.
Talk of the Sound has requested details on the charges filed against Parente. An officer told Talk of the Sound on Thursday that there no officers on duty on Thanksgiving Day authorized to speak with the press. This story will be updated once details of the charges are made available.
UPDATE 11-24-17 9:58 AM: Peter Parente was arraigned Friday in New Rochelle City Court before Judge Anthony Carbone on one count of Criminal Possession of a Firearm in the Third Degree, a Class D Felony, a violent felony punishable from between two and seven years in prison and Criminal Possession of a Weapon 4th degree for possessing a firearm not permitted by his valid NYS Pistol Permit. Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.
Despite initial reports, Parente has not not been charged on any Domestic Violence counts at this time.
The weapon confiscated by police that form the basis for the criminal charge is a sawed-off shot gun, sources say.
Sources familiar with the weapon say a serial number was filed off the weapon which would also be illegal.
Carbone issued a Temporary Order of Protection for Parente to stay away from his wife and home but granted Parente permission to return to his house under police escort to collect his belongings.
Carbone informed Parente that any license or permit for the sale or possession of firearms was suspended and ordered that Parente turn over any firearms in his possession.
Bail was set at $7,500 or $500 cash.
Parente posted bail a short time later and went directly to New Rochelle Family Court to file for visitation rights for his children. His wife was also at Family Court under police protection to file for a permanent Restraining Order.
A return date in the criminal case was set for January 10, 2018 at New Rochelle City Court. If Domestic Violence charges are filed, the case would be transferred to White Plains.
UPDATE 11-24-17 10:32 AM: The New Rochelle Police Department responded via email with a list of charges. The article has been updated to reflect the additional charge of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree.
UPDATE: 11-24-17 1:52 PM: This article originally stated that Peter Parente is Commander of an American Legion Post. This was incorrect. We regret the error. The article has been updated to state that he is the Commander of VFW Post 459 in New Rochelle.
UPDATE: 11-25-17 11:25 PM: Peter Parente issued the following statement on Facebook, “Thanks for all the love. I’m safe and I’m OK. Don’t believe everything you read especially if it’s in talk of the sound shit report, Not commander of American Legion, was no (sic) resisting in any way shape or form. No domestic violence at all!! No one or 4 cops had to subdue me. Everything was calm and I was a gentleman through the whole thing. I was arrested for an old shot gun I had from desert storm 1991. Forgot I had it and the cops saw it. Plain and simple. Much more to the story but just needed to clear the record.”