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‘Scared for their life’: Ohio couple says R.I. congressional candidate Michael Neary followed and menaced them for miles

Driving a silver car, Neary allegedly followed the couple for about 70 miles, tailgating, flashing his lights, and even pulling alongside them and into oncoming traffic, according to Ohio police reports requested by the Globe.

Michael Neary, a candidate for the Second Congressional District in Rhode Island, in a Feb. 20 Instagram post announcing his campaign.Neary For All campaign

PROVIDENCE — By the time Harold and Candy Poland reached the police station in Troy, Ohio, they were so upset that Candy could barely speak.

“It should be noted, Candy was petrified,” the police report says, “stating Harold would need to explain what happened because she could not talk.”

The Ohio couple told authorities they were “scared for their life” because they had been followed from the Columbus Airport — for about 70 miles — by a silver car that had tailgated them, speeding up when they sped up, slowing down when they slowed down, flashing its lights, and at one point pulling alongside them into the oncoming lane of traffic, according to incident reports the Globe requested from the Miami County (Ohio) Sheriff’s Office.

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The Polands had no idea who the driver of the silver car was. But authorities say it was Michael Neary, a Democratic candidate for the Second Congressional District seat in Rhode Island.

Miami (Ohio) Sheriff's Office mug shot of Michael Neary, a Democratic candidate for Rhode Island's Second Congressional District.Miami County Sheriff's Office

Neary, 28, was charged with menacing by stalking, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to court records. He pleaded not guilty, and a pretrial conference is set for April 21.

Neary has not returned repeated requests for comment from the Globe. The treasurer of his federal campaign account, Aaron Neary, said, “No comment,” when asked about the incident. When asked if Michael Neary remains in the race, he said, “No comment.”

Neary entered the congressional race in February after Democratic Representative James R. Langevin announced he would not seek reelection.

He had previously worked for former Ohio Republican governor John Kasich and was working as a senior analyst at CVS Health. He was living in Columbus, Ohio, but described himself as a sixth-generation Rhode Islander who grew up in Coventry and West Warwick, and said he planned to move back to Coventry soon.

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The Miami County Sheriff’s Office first received a complaint at 2:34 a.m. on Wednesday, March 23, when the Polands called 911, the reports show.

Harold Poland, 65, and Candy Poland, 62, had just spent a week in Florida, visiting their son. They landed at the Columbus Airport and got in their 2006 Lexus SUV to head home to New Carlisle, a city of 5,559 people that is about 68 miles from the airport.

As they turned onto Interstate 670, heading west, Harold Poland noticed a silver car following them. “At first, he did not think anything it,” the police report says.

But as he began passing other cars and trucks, Poland noticed the silver car was staying right behind them. “Whenever he would get over, the vehicle would follow him and keep the same speed,” the report says.

When they drove past a rest area on Interstate 70 near South Vienna, Ohio, the silver car began flashing it lights. Harold Poland slowed down, but the silver car slowed down, too, and would not pass, according to the report.

So Poland tried to speed up to try to get away, but the silver car sped up, too, staying about two car lengths behind him.

Poland took the exit onto Route 68 in Springfield, Ohio, and the silver car followed.

Poland took the exit onto Route 41, heading toward Troy, Ohio, and the silver car followed.

In North Hampton, Poland pulled over under a well-lit building, and the silver car pulled into the same area. So Poland drove off, entering Miami County.

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That’s when the silver car pulled alongside them. “The silver car was traveling into oncoming traffic, mimicking their speed, staying right beside them,” the report says. “Harold states he rolled his window down and attempted to yell at him, but due to the silver vehicle’s music being so loud, he believed him not to hear him.”

The silver car then got behind the Polands and continued following them.

“At this point, Harold state that he and his wife, Candy, were getting scared for their life,” the report says. “So they called 911.”

The dispatcher told them to head to the Troy Police Department. There, they told the deputy they did not recognize the car or the driver.

Meanwhile, other deputies intercepted the silver car, which they spotted following the Polands’ SUV “very closely” on Route 41 in Troy. The deputies turned on their overhead lights, but the silver car — a 2017 Hyundai Elantra with Ohio plates — didn’t stop until they’d hit their siren three or four times.

When they pulled him over, “Mr. Neary appeared to be nervous, his eyes were bloodshot and he was talking fast,” the report says. “Michael was very talkative. He was repeating many statements he said more than once. Mr. Neary also seemed jittery. He could not stand still and kept moving his hands, arms, legs, and feet.”

Neary told the deputies he had taken a drive to “clear his head.”

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“He said he just came home a few days ago from Rhode Island and was very stressed,” the report says. “Michael said he was in Rhode Island for two weeks. He said he (used) to live there, is looking at moving back, and is currently running for a political position in the state of Rhode Island.”

The deputies said Neary agreed to let them search his car, and they said they found clear plastic baggies of marijuana, a ceramic pipe, and a grinder on the front passenger seat. The deputies said they also found a half-empty bottle of whiskey in the back seat.

At that point, another deputy conducted a field sobriety test on Neary.

“Michael was speaking extremely quickly and kept changing the topic talking about several different things going on in his life,” the deputy wrote. “I observed Michael’s eyes to be glossy and his eyes dilated. Due to Michael’s demeanor and his excessive movement, I believed him to be impaired.”

The deputy held up a finger in front of Neary and moved it to see if he would track it with his eyes. His eyes failed to track the movement smoothly and multiple times Neary “would continue staring in front of him instead of looking at my finger,” the report says.

The deputy then conducted a “walk and turn” test, but he said Neary stopped while walking, turned improperly, and used his arms for balance.

And finally, the deputy conducted a “one leg stand” test, but he said Neary put his foot down multiple times and swayed.

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Neary told deputies he was not on any prescription drugs and had not used any illegal substances that day. Recreational marijuana has not been legalized in Ohio.

Neary was placed under arrest for suspicion of being impaired, the report says. He agreed to provide a urine test and was told the test results would determine whether he would be charged with driving while impaired, the report says.


Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.