Raleigh man charged ethnic intimidation as neighborhood dispute escalates

rgallagher@newsobserver.comMay 1, 2014 

— A 55-year-old man’s arrest late Wednesday on charges that included ethnic intimidation was the latest chapter in a dispute between neighbors that began on a North Raleigh cul-de-sac a year ago and already is the subject of a criminal trial scheduled for next month.

Police arrested Charles McKenzie Pringle of 12228 Jarden Court after they concluded that he had applied a plant killer to a lawn, garden, hedge and rose bushes next door and had been secretly peeping into Lak “Dinesh” Kalra’s and Blanca Castro’s home. It appears that Pringle “unlawfully and willfully did damage” to the couple’s property because of her nationality, Officer A.R. Koellhoffer wrote in the arrest warrant.

Pringle was charged with injuring trees or croplands, secret peeping and ethnic intimidation, all misdemeanors. He was taken before a magistrate and freed on $5,000 bail.

Last Thursday, Pringle was convicted in District Court of threatening Kalra in February and was ordered to pay $180 in fines and court costs. Pringle, who had waived his right to an attorney, filed an appeal to Superior Court the same day, and a trial is scheduled for June 2.

The dispute between Pringle and Kalra and Castro appears to have begun a year ago, according to court documents, after Kalra bought his house on April 2 next door to Pringle, who has lived there since 1997.

Pringle sent Kalra and Castro a letter last June accusing them of contacting the Lowe’s Home Improvement store where Pringle works, asking other employees about him and “making false statements about me” that included “implications that I was stealing from my employer.”

In the letter that he also shared with police and his boss at Lowe’s, Pringle said Castro had filed a barking-dog complaint against him earlier that month, but an Animal Control officer heard no barking. The letter asked Kalra and Castro to leave Pringle alone.

Two days later, Kalra swore out an arrest warrant charging Pringle with threatening him between April 16 and June 11 by saying that Karla “had better watch his back.” The charge was dismissed in July.

The dispute flared again in February when Kalra again swore out a warrant charging Pringle with threatening him. That time, the warrant said, Pringle told Kalra as he was taking the garbage out that he “could leave now or leave dead.”

Pringle posted $1,000 bail and was freed. The next day, Kalra asked for and got a court order for Pringle to stay away from him.

Kalra apparently went to a magistrate again Wednesday and was told that this time he should call police, said police spokesman Jim Sughrue. A police report from Wednesday “included some accusations that ethnicity played a role” in the dispute, Sughrue said.

Gallagher: 919-829-4572

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