CANTON — The Canton Police Department issued warrants Friday for the arrests of Cherokee County School Board member Kelly Marlow, political adviser Robert Trim and Cherokee County Republican Party Secretary Barbara Knowles, on charges of making false statements that School Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo tried to hit them with his car.
Canton Police Chief Robert Merchant confirmed Friday night that warrants were issued earlier Friday for the three, and that they each face charges of making false statements for telling officers that Petruzielo attempted to run them over after a School Board meeting in June.
Following a heated meeting of the school board June 13, Knowles dialed 911 and reported that Petruzielo had been driving aggressively and almost ran her and Marlow over, as they walked across the street in downtown Canton, according to a copy of the 911 call, obtained by the Cherokee Tribune.
In the copy of the 911 call, Knowles can be heard telling the operator that she was walking to the Painted Pig Tavern in Canton after the meeting when “the superintendent of the school raced right by me in his white BMW and did not stop.”
Trim was a witness to the incident, Merchant said.
A Canton Police officer responded and took their statements.
According to the police report, Knowles said she felt Petruzielo’s failure to slow down was intentional and that they felt threatened.
But Merchant said Friday these claims turned out to be false.
“They lied,” he said. “The bottom line is based on the evidence we have, this was just totally fabricated.”
Petruzielo released a statement Friday night defending his innocence.
“As I indicated when I was informed of the report being filed against me, this is a very serious allegation that has no basis in fact,” Petruzielo said.
Merchant agreed that the accusations made by Marlow, Trim and Knowles are serious, as are the charges they now face for lying about the incident.
No matter what controversy is going through the school board, making such false statements is inexcusable, Merchant said.
“I understand that (Marlow) believes she’s the saving grace for this county,” Merchant said. “But as far I’m concerned, I’m going to do everything I can possibly do to make sure she gets prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, along with Knowles and Trim.”
Merchant said he would “strongly encourage” Marlow, Trim and Knowles to turn themselves in.
Marlow, Trim and Knowles could not be reached for comment by press time Friday night.