Homeless man tosses items, advice into Lemieux's yard
The scribbled letters advised Penguins owner Mario Lemieux to give his players special vitamins and offered strategies for winning games.
At first, they were mailed to Mr. Lemieux at his home. But when the notes, Christian music CDs and other items started being tossed over Mr. Lemieux's fence, addressed to his wife and daughters, NHL security contacted the Allegheny County probation office.
The man behind the items is 54-year-old James Hoop, who was on probation after pleading guilty last year to an unrelated harassment charge when he began sending notes to Mr. Lemieux, as well as hockey stars Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal, probation officer Karen Ollis said.
The letters came to light during a probation violation hearing yesterday before Common Pleas Judge Donald E. Machen, held to discuss a March 5 incident in which Mr. Hoop was charged with disorderly conduct, harassment and making terroristic threats against a doctor in Washington County.
He appeared to be homeless at the time of his arrest, living out of his father's car, Ms. Ollis said.
No charges have been filed against Mr. Hoop for the cryptic and often rambling notes to the Penguins, she said, adding that behavior was similar to the kind that landed him in jail, where he remains pending the Washington County charges.
NHL security director Ken Fulton brought the collection of notes, homemade stationery, envelopes and religious CDs to the courtroom yesterday in a brown cardboard box.
Ms. Ollis and Mr. Hoop's attorney, Sumner L. Parker, said the notes started appearing Feb. 19, and are nonsensical at times, telling the players to avoid eating sweets, offering other dietary tips and suggesting vitamins they should take.
In messy penmanship, he wrote he didn't think Mr. Crosby had enough experience to be team captain. The CDs are a smattering of Christian music.
Surveillance footage from Mr. Lemieux's home shows Mr. Hoop tossing the items over a fence, Ms. Ollis said. The groundskeeper would find them before almost every home game.
Mr. Hoop told Judge Machen he had been taking medication for bipolar disorder for more than four years but did not specifically mention the notes or the Penguins.
First Published July 28, 2009 12:00 am