(Times Union) - The Mr. Ding-A-Ling truck hadn't been rolling through the streets here for more than a week before Joshua Malatino made his message clear: There ain't enough Fudgsicles in this city for the both of us.
Malatino, who owns the homegrown Sno Cone Joe franchise, had threatened rival ice cream trucks before, but police said he went too far earlier this month. It began with threats and taunts.
"You don't have a chance!" Malatino yelled to the 53-year-old Mr. Ding-a-Ling driver on one of his first days in Gloversville, according to court documents. "This is my town!"
Soon, police said, Malatino, 34, and his girlfriend, Amanda Scott, 21, were shadowing the rival driver across quiet city streets, blaring their jingles and trying to pry his customers away.
"Free ice cream!" they would yell to any parent or child sauntering toward the Mr. Ding-A-Ling truck, police said.
Police said Malatino and Scott's quixotic quest to run roughshod over their competition hit a roadblock Tuesday: Officers charged the operators with harassment, a violation, and misdemeanor stalking.
The ice cream truck turf war could land the couple in jail for three months if convicted.
Malatino's bullying came to a head April 19, police said.
A city officer was patrolling Prospect Avenue and North Main Street when he said he noticed one of Malatino's Sno Cone Joe trucks tailgating the Mr. Ding-A-Ling truck up to a stoplight.
"In the past, Malatino has been warned for this type of behavior," said Capt. John Sira, adding Malatino drove a different ice cream vendor truck out of town last summer.
The officer made note of the strange sighting and later asked the Mr. Ding-A-Ling driver if Malatino had spoken to him. The driver then told police about the threats and odd behavior.
Police said Malatino called the Mr. Ding-A-Ling headquarters in Latham and told them "I own this town!" and, police said, claimed "that his business controls the ice cream sales market in the city of Gloversville."
Malatino and Scott tailed the trucks and shouted at customers on April 16, 19 and 28, police said.
"We warned him before that this type of behavior would not be tolerated," Sira said. "This is a pretty open market here in Gloversville as long as you have a permit."
Mr. Ding-A-Ling owner Brian Collis said Malatino has been threatening him and his drivers for the better part of the past decade.
"He's always following my guys, playing his music loud, giving out free ice cream," Collis said. "Every year he calls up and says 'Who do you think you are, putting another truck in this town?' "
Collis said he and the previous owner of Sno Cone Joe had an agreement not to bring Mr. Ding-A-Ling trucks into Gloversville, but that arrangement ended once Malatino took the business over.
"I guess he told the old owner something like 'Don't worry. He won't come around here,' " Collis said.
Malatino has had other, non-ice-cream-related contact with police, Sira said. News reports show Malatino was accused of assault in 2011, though both the circumstances and resolution in that case were not immediately available.
Sira said Malatino and Scott's recent threats toward the Mr. Ding-A-Ling driver never became physical.
Malatino and Scott were arraigned in Gloversville City Court and released. Malatino was not available for comment.
It's unclear if Sno Cone Joe is still operating in the city. Collis said his Gloversville driver is traveling all his routes.