A retired merchant marine suspected of using his small plane to stalk a woman for more than four years in Upstate New York denied knowing the victim Tuesday as he was arrested for the third time in a single week for allegedly tormenting her.
“I don’t know her, she’s crazy,” Michael Arnold, 65, said of 42-year-old Cassie Wilusz on his way into Saratoga Town Court. He said he’d only eaten at her restaurant once and didn’t return after coming down with food poisoning.
But Wilusz, who owns Revolution Cafe in the small village of Schuylerville, shared videos that allegedly show him circling her home in his plane and following her in his car.
Arnold was arraigned Tuesday on nine counts of criminal contempt that stem from an arrest on Friday for using a Facebook account with a fake name to allegedly harass her and threaten her daughter in violation of an order of protection.
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As he left court, deputies slapped him in handcuffs again on a fresh stalking charge, according to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office.
“I feel relieved that he’s in custody at the moment,” Wilusz told Fox News Digital in an interview at her cafe on Tuesday. “He hopefully realizes the time has come, and he has to actually answer to the charges.”
Minutes later, Arnold was released on bail.
“What is the next escalation? If it goes too far, is he willing to fly a plane into Cassie’s house? We live in a small residential area. That’s not going to just affect Cassie.”
He was arrested on Oct. 3 at an airport in Vermont for repeatedly circling Wilusz’s home in his single-engine Cessna in violation of an order of protection that banned him from flying, according to a release from the Bennington Police Department.
The FBI, which is now involved in the investigation, tipped off the local police. He was released on $5,000 bail.
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Wilusz, whose husband recently died, told Fox News Digital that Arnold is a former customer who has terrorized her and her family since she rejected his vulgar advances in November 2019.
Wilusz said she’s been living a nightmare ever since Arnold emailed her photos of him posing with nude women. She told him he’d crossed a line.
That’s when he allegedly began his campaign of harassment, flying over her home several times a week and following her in his car when she headed to work, walked her dog or took her daughter to school.
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As her husband was dying of colon cancer earlier this year, he’d fly so low that their roof shook and the windows rattled.
“I didn’t know if he’d fly into our home. I didn’t know what he was capable of,” Wilusz previously told Fox News Digital.
She filed at least 10 police reports and contacted the local prosecutor’s office, but Wilusz said they didn’t take her complaint seriously.
“I would dispute that characterization,” Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen told Fox News Digital.
Schuylerville Mayor Dan Carpenter said that part of the problem was that authorities had difficulty determining whether Arnold was flying low enough for the conduct to constitute stalking.
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The most recent order of protection includes a ban on flying, which has made it much easier to arrest and charge him, he said.
Carpenter began fielding numerous calls from concerned residents after Arnold allegedly dropped tomatoes from his plane on the properties of Wilusz and her neighbors.
“The community has concerns about his mental stability,” he said. “What is the next escalation? If it goes too far, is he willing to fly a plane into Cassie’s house? We live in a small residential area. That’s not going to just affect Cassie.”
Prosecutors say that Arnold’s stalking crusade has included posting sick messages online by using a Facebook account with a fictitious name.
“Nobody ever stalked that. As our member mike said, ‘not my type.’ He said he has way better standards,” Arnold allegedly wrote, referring to himself, in a Facebook post on Wilusz’s business page.
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After Wilusz’s husband died in May, Arnold allegedly implied that her karma was responsible for his death and suggested that her 14-year-old daughter would be next, according to prosecutors.
Arnold’s lawyer declined to comment.
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Julia Bonavita and Ashley Papa contributed to this report.
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