SALEM — Two modern-day dragon slayers agreed yesterday to pay restitution to the organizers of an annual ice sculpture festival, in exchange for prosecutors dropping all charges against the men.
William Hare, 47, a licensed psychologist, and Rajendra John Srivastava, 30, who live together at 34 Pleasant St. in Salem, were both arrested on larceny charges in February after a Salem police officer said she twice saw them carrying away a block of ice carved to look like the head of a dragon.
Hare was also charged with disorderly conduct, after he argued with the officer, Tracey O'Leary, and insisted that they would be taking the head home with them, police said.
O'Leary had first spotted the pair with the head early on the morning of Feb. 12 while she was on patrol. She told the men to put the head back, she said in a report, and they complied. But about 15 minutes later, she spotted them again with the head. This time, Hare threw down the gauntlet, adamant that they would keep the ice sculpture, O'Leary said.
He was placed under arrest, along with Srivastava.
However, cracks soon developed in the case against the pair.
While defense lawyer John Andrews won a court order to have the evidence preserved so he could have it appraised, the freezer that Salem police used to store the head malfunctioned, causing the sculpture to melt almost completely before it was discovered in a puddle of water.
Following extensive negotiations over the course of several weeks, an agreement was reached between Salem police; prosecutors in District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett's office; and the defense team of Andrews, Marc Salinas and Daniel Toscano.
During a hearing in Salem District Court yesterday, Hare and Srivastava agreed to pay $385 each — the approximate cost of an ice sculpture the size of the dragon — to the organizers of the Salem's So Sweet Chocolate and Ice Sculpture Festival, so they can purchase two ice sculptures next year. Prosecutors agreed to a dismissal of all charges against the pair.
In addition, Judge Michael Lauranzano agreed to issue a court order expunging completely several drug possession charges originally lodged against Hare, who had prescriptions for the medications. The charges had mistakenly been entered into the statewide criminal offender history database despite an earlier order.
Andrews declined to comment outside court yesterday.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis may be reached at 978-338-2521 or firstname.lastname@example.org.