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Councilman Charged After Strange String of Events

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FREELAND -- After a strange string of events Sunday, a Freeland councilman who is also running for mayor is facing a slew of charges.

Police said there had been ongoing issues with John Budda and it all came to a head over the weekend.

It all started when police say Budda went up to a couple walking their dog. He allegedly asked if the pet would bite a postal worker. Police said although Budda has been a retired postal worker for about 15 years, Budda was wearing a postman's jacket at the time of the incident.

A witness spoke to Newswatch 16 but did not want to be identified in our report.

"He came up to me very quickly, and it kind of scared me because I wasn't sure how my dog was going to react," she said.

Then, police said Budda went down Front Street in Freeland and stopped traffic. Police said Budda was asking drivers if anyone knew who Larry was, when one person said no, Budda threw a lit cigarette at him.

"I was shocked. I was surprised. I did want to approach him and say, 'What are you doing?' But my husband said, 'Stop, he doesn't look very stable,'" the witness said.

Police also said Budda stopped at Woods Ice Cream stand. He asked a 6-year-old boy to shake his hand and then he kissed the boy directly on the lips. His parents told police that they are not related.

Witnesses said it was just shocking to see all of this, especially considering that Budda was a well-liked community member.

"He needs help and hopefully the parents can see that. I'm sure he wasn't meaning to hurt anybody. He does need help," the witness said.

After that, police said Budda went up to a group of about 30-40 parents and kids playing basketball at a nearby park, stole their ball, and made a lewd gesture at them. He then tried to get into another person's SUV, put the ball inside, and said, "Is this your car?"

Police said the group of parents followed Budda out of the park.

Then, Budda allegedly stole a gallon of milk away from a woman unloading her groceries. According to the criminal complaint, the woman said to Budda, who is known as "Spiderman" in the community, "Spider, get back here with my milk!" Budda ignored her and walked away.

Budda was charged with theft from a motor vehicle, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, simple assault, three counts of harassment, and four counts of disorderly conduct.

Residents said it was completely out of character for the John Budda they knew. They said he was an EMT for 40 years at the Freeland Northside Community Ambulance. He was also enlisted in the service.

Newswatch 16 called the Freeland town solicitor for a comment. He did not return our call.

Police do not suspect Budda was under the influence of any drugs at the time. Officials say he is currently being evaluated.


  • Concerned Christian

    I’m glad they are evaluating him. Mental illness sucks! My nephew suffers from mental illness and it makes him do things that are out of character for him. People need to realize if this man does have some kind of mental issue he can’ t control what he does. And to charge him before they know what’s up is wrong. I don’ t commend his actions but he probably did not realize what he was doing.

  • Concerned Christian

    He obviously has mental illness. No one in their right mind acts like that. I feel bad for this poor man. They need to evaluate him.

  • Jack Irvin

    I love that Newswatch 16 called for comments and did not get a return call, they always put that line in their stories. Why would anyone return their call?

  • Ri

    I’ve people that normally act normal, act strange and then it was later found they had a brain tumor.
    I really hope his evaluation includes a complete medical workup if this is out of character of him.

  • Dave

    I don’t know this Budda guy, I don’t condone his actions and it’s clear he needs help.
    HOWEVER, should WNEP be embarrassing him like that….When everything is over he has to live in that community when he gets better. What is wrong with this news station ?

  • whatsgoingon

    This is all very bizarre! The guy sits on the city council? Running for mayor? Kissing little boys on the lips? Relative or not that’s a bit strange?! This council’s nickname is spiderman? What a strange place!

  • WarningFakeNews

    There are some serious medical conditions which may cause this, prayers for him and his family.

  • Help me!

    If he wasn’t under the influence then he should have been. It seems something made him flip out and now he needs help. I hope he gets it instead of just getting a probation and community service. This whole thing seems like a cry for help over something traumatic in his life or a condition he suffers and it should be addressed. I hope and pray he gets better.

  • Blue Skies

    “Police do not suspect Budda was under the influence of any drugs at the time. ”
    Then the police are inept.

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