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Cops: Middletown Man Took Bulldozer To Wife's House Without Permission

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A crushed couch, a crumpled sign, and some clothing are all that were left after a man took a bulldozer to the home that he lived in.

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported, there was one major problem with the man's demolition plan -- his wife, who was the registered owner, allegedly never knew about it.

A modest 900-square foot ranch home on Woodland Avenue in Middletown, New York has been reduced to a pile of rubble by the owner's husband 48-year-old James Rhein.

Neighbor Steve Belfiglio said Rhein rented an excavator on Monday and demolished the house and everything in it.

"He bulldozed all her clothes in there. Washer, dryer, furnace, hot water heater, everything was still in there. In fact, her medication was still in there," Belfiglio said.

Records show the home is owned by Rhein's wife Diane Andryshak. Middletown police say she didn't know about or give permission for the demolition.

Rhein said the cops have it all wrong. CBS2 bumped into him while driving around Middletown.

"We're married. It's a community asset," he said.

"Well, apparently, she told police you weren't supposed to tear down the house," Aiello told him.

"Well, apparently, they're wrong," Rhein replied.

Police said Rhein didn't file for any demolition permits and failed to notify utilities about his intended destruction. The electric and gas services had to be turned off by emergency crews.

"He could have blew the block up, I suppose," Belfiglio said.

"It's crazy. I don't know. Luckily, none of us were hurt," Marina Cassidy said.

Rhein has been charged with felony criminal mischief, but police say additional charges are likely.

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