A pile of flags found by the side of the road Thursday in Pleasantville was the work of a “mentally ill” man, a manager for two local cemeteries says.

Anthony Fratto, who oversees the Atlantic City and Greenwood cemeteries in the city, said the man walked among graves pulling out flags.

“Two days ago, we caught a gentleman, apparently mentally ill, picking flags up and throwing them on the railroad tracks,” Fratto said Friday. “I actually physically chased the man in the cemetery, and he jumped over the fence and dumped the flags again.”

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Police were notified, Fratto said, adding that it was the third time this has happened in the past week.

“It’s hard for us — and there are only two of us — to find out exactly where the flags are,” Fratto said, adding that it’s difficult to find out which graves the flags were taken from and return them. “We can only go along and pick up what was taken out of the ground.”

Police were notified after the last incident, Fratto said, but the man was not caught. Fratto said they contacted the mother of the man they believe to be the culprit and notified her that if he returns to the cemetery, he will be arrested.

“What are you going to do with someone who doesn’t care or have any idea what they’re doing?” Fratto said. “But if it persists, we’re going to have to press charges.”

Fratto said he spoke with John Palmentieri, the World War II veteran who helps place the flags, and said that all of the flags that have been found will be properly disposed.

“I spoke with him, shook hands, and he was very nice about it,” Palmentieri said Friday. “They said (the man) did that other times, too; this just happened to be my flags this time. They said they’re going to pick up the flags and try and put them back where they were, and when (they can’t), I’ll go and pick them up. ... They said they’d get to doing that right away, and I’m satisfied.”

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