The man who twice forced authorities to shut down the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge can return to the Lowcountry to salvage his struggling business, a magistrate recently said.
Charged with stalking and failure to stop for blue lights, Phillip DeClemente, 41, had agreed to stay out of the state while being treated in Florida for symptoms related to post traumatic stress, his attorney Brian Johnson said during a bond modification hearing in Charleston County Court.
According to Johnson, DeClemente had agreed to the terms under the assumption that he would be able to handle much of his business' affairs from out of town. The distance, however, ended up posing a threat to DeClemente's livelihood, prompting him to seek a judge's approval to return to the area, Johnson said during the hearing.
Johnson declined to comment further about the situation. DeClemente also declined to comment, citing restraints from the court and his attorneys.
The charges against DeClemente were handed down in connection to his arrest Jan. 31 atop the Ravenel Bridge, a Charleston police report said.
David Leaird, the man DeClemente's accused of stalking, called authorities around 10 p.m. that night and complained of being harassed and threatened by a man on his front lawn, police said. Leaird did not return a phone call from The Post and Courier seeking comment.
The two men had known each other for years and planned to partner in a private investigation business together. But their relationship turned sour, Leaird is quoting in the report as saying, when he intervened in a "serious physical altercation" between DeClemente and a woman he had been dating.
An arrest affidavit for DeClemente alleged that he sent Leaird multiple text messages over the course of six days in which he threatened to "take care" of him.
DeClemente then arrived at Leaird's home, banged on the door and yelled "come out you (expletive) and face me so I can take care of you once and for all," the police report said.
Police reportedly arrived at Leaird's home in time to see DeClemente pull away in a silver Honda Odyssey. Officers followed the vehicle through West Ashley, but DeClemente failed to stop for blue lights, police alleged.
DeClemente eventually drove to the Ravenel Bridge and stopped near the top of the northbound span. He was taken into custody following a brief stand-off, officials said.
The incident wasn't DeClemente's first run-in with authorities on the bridge. On Feb. 2, 2012, police arrested DeClemente after he parked his SUV sideways on the bridge, blocking traffic. On the Lexus' windows, DeClemente painted the words "Stay Away," "Back Off" and "Game Over." Inside the car, he had a smoke grenade and two cans of pepper spray, police said.
Police closed the bridge and eventually talked him into surrendering. He spent 30 days in the Medical University of South Carolina psychiatric unit.
After being discharged from the hospital, DeClemente told The Post and Courier that he wasn't suicidal, didn't have a bomb and had no plans to harm the bridge. He said he was trying to expose what he described as a smear campaign against him and ongoing harassment by police and private investigators.
Under court order, DeClemente moved to Florida to be with family and to seek psychiatric treatment.
At his most recent bond modification hearing, 9th Circuit Judge Roger Young agreed to allow DeClemente to return to South Carolina.
DeClemente is not allowed near Leaird's home or workplace, and he can't bash the man in social media, Young ordered.
Young concluded the hearing by ordering DeClemente to continue undergoing treatment.
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.
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