The man didn’t want to pay his repair bill until he was sure his cooling system was working, according to a police report. He now faces an aggravated assault charge.
PALM BEACH GARDENS — A payment dispute on a sweltering day led an 82-year-old Palm Beach Gardens man to point a shotgun at two air-conditioner repairmen, city police said in arresting him Wednesday.
Ronald V. Cieri did not fire the gun at two repairmen, who left his house without collecting the payment. One of the men reported the incident to city police.
Now Cieri faces a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was booked released from the Palm Beach County Jail on Thursday on a $3,000 bond.
A judge ordered him to turn over all of his weapons within 24 hours of leaving custody.
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Several attempts by The Palm Beach Post to reach Cieri were unsuccessful, and he did not return messages left on his answering machine. He did, however, call Prestige Air Conditioning on Friday and paid his bill, the company’s manager said.
Court records indicate no criminal history for Cieri in the county. Police said there was no indication he was under the influence either of drugs or alcohol when they came to his home on Wharton Way, in the Carleton Oaks neighborhood off Northlake Boulevard west of Florida’s Turnpike.
Cieri answered his front door carrying a handgun but allowed officers to come inside, according to his arrest report.
The dispute arose after two Prestige employees completed work on Cieri’s cooling system Wednesday, when the National Weather Service said temperatures reached 86 degrees in West Palm Beach, and asked for a $320 payment, the report said.
Cieri said he would pay only after running the air conditioner for a couple of days to see if it worked properly. The repairmen said the business did not operate that way and said they would remove all the parts they had just installed if he refused to pay.
Cierri responded by warning the workers not to touch the air conditioner and then retrieving a 2-foot-long shotgun from his laundry room and pointing it at them, the report alleges.
One repairman drove to Palm Beach Gardens police headquarters to report the incident.
Amber Carbone, the manager at Prestige, said Cieri was a repeat customer. In 2017, Prestige installed a complete air-conditioning system at his house. Carbone said there had been no previous incidents. He called Friday to pay his bill with a credit card.
"This type of thing has never happened in my 20 years of being here," Carbone said. "We’re just super-grateful it didn’t escalate any further."
Cieri told police he pulled the shotgun because the repairmen were threatening to take parts from his air conditioner, the report said. After police read him his Miranda rights, he declined to answer further questions.
Cieri is due in court in April, court records show.
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