Fundraiser Ad Lands Man In Jail
April 19, 2012 by Bryan Nash
A businessman in Lockport, N.Y., will have to serve a 15-day sentence for violating the town’s sign ordinance.
Lockport law requires that electronic billboards can change only once every 10 minutes. David Mongielo thought the law was phrased poorly, so he had a sign that changed more often.
“The law reads that the format or the message may only change once every ten minutes, so the format is the program, so video is a format. That alone means it’s legal,” argued Mongielo.
His first violation was in 2009, and he had to pay a fine of $700. He was warned that the next violation would land him 15 days behind bars.
Mongielo recently was using his sign to intermittently display fundraising ads. His ad changed before 10 minutes in order to advertise a fundraiser for a local Sheriff’s deputy who lost both his legs in a traffic accident.
“Displaying a fundraising event, happy birthday message, anything non-commercial, it’s for my constitutional right; they can’t regulate it,” Mongielo.
But the city thought otherwise. The Lockport businessman faces a $250 fine and jail time.
“It’s shocking; it’s disturbing. I am a patriot and it’s sad that dysfunction of America can show we really don’t have any freedoms locally,” he said.
Frank Housh, Mongielo’s attorney, said: “There’s so much wrong with this prosecution … there’s so much wrong with this case that I can’t really begin.”