Minnesota board candidate who allegedly threw live tarantula at tenant is charged with assault

A candidate for the Hennepin County Board in Minnesota was arrested on assault charges after she was accused of throwing a live tarantula at her tenant.

Marisa Simonetti, who is running for a seat on the county board, told NBC News on Thursday that the incident stemmed from local attorney Jackie Vasquez’s alleged refusal to leave her property.

Simonetti said she had rented Vasquez a room in her 5-bedroom house through Airbnb, but after a series of incidents, Simonetti canceled the reservation.

“She was in my house less than two weeks before she started sending me double, triple paragraph long texts and yelling at people on the phone at 10:30 at night for an hour,” said Simonetti, who lives in the home with her son. “I’m just sitting up here … thinking this is not gonna go well.”

Simonetti accused Vasquez of threatening to ruin her campaign and sending “paragraph-long threatening messages” through her campaign website.

Vasquez could not be reached at phone numbers listed for her.

Things allegedly escalated last Thursday, the day Vasquez was supposed to move out. Simonetti said Vasquez intentionally closed her arm in a door but Vasquez was not arrested over the alleged incident.

Simonetti said Edina police came to the home three times that day and eventually told Vasquez she was trespassing. Edina police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Instead of packing up her belongings, Vasquez allegedly “barricaded herself in my basement like she had no intention of leaving,” Simonetti said.

“I just thought, how far is she gonna go? Is she going to hurt me or my son? I can’t have this here,” she said. “The police didn’t help me, I’m all on my own.”

Vasquez told NBC affiliate KARE of Minneapolis that Simonetti threw the tarantula at her, among other items. She told the news station that it was a scary encounter.

Simonetti said she went to a pet store and bought the tarantula, but “gently tipped it down the stairs” and did not throw it at Vasquez.

“I’m not a physically violent person and I watched the movie ‘Home Alone’ growing up and I was like, you know what, this is such a strange situation,” Simonetti said. “If I’m scared or hurt, I try and make jokes. And I was so scared, I was just like, I didn’t know what to do and so yeah, I got the spider.”

Simonetti said she was shocked to be arrested over the incident. Online jail records show she was charged with 5th-degree assault and misdemeanor domestic assault. The charges involve fear of bodily harm.

She was released Monday afternoon on her own recognizance. By the time she got back home, she said Vasquez had moved out.

Simonetti was the runner-up in the summer’s special election in the nonpartisan Hennepin County Board race running as a conservative, according to KARE. She has faced legal trouble in the past including allegations of credit card fraud after she was accused of running up an $80,000 bill on her ex-fiance’s card, the news station reported. The case was dropped after the ex-fiance settled with her in court.

She and an ex-boyfriend also have restraining orders against each other following allegations of stalking and assault, according to KARE.

As far as the tarantula, Simonetti said she hasn’t been able to find it.

“I hope he found a good snack and a nice warm bed,” she said, laughing.

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