Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

April 18, 2012

Mongielo sentenced to 15 days

Auto shop owner appealing sentence

By Joe Olenick
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

TOWN OF LOCKPORT — David J. Mongielo faces a 15-day jail sentence for violating the town’s sign ordinance a second time, which was a violation of the first offense’s conditional discharge.

Mongielo received a pair of sentences Tuesday night in town court, the first for his 2011 violation of the ordinance. The Robinson Road auto shop owner will pay a $250 fine and receive a one-year conditional discharge. That means Mongielo will serve 15 days in jail if he violates the ordinance again over the next 12 months.

However, the 2011 violation is Mongielo’s second offense of the sign ordinance. He was cited three times in 2009 for violating town law with an electronic sign that can play video and changes displays within seconds. The town ordinance says a sign cannot change a display more than once every 10 minutes.

Mongielo’s sentence for the 2009 violation was three fines totaling $750 and a similar conditional discharge like the one he received Tuesday. So in the end, Mongielo received the 15-day jail sentence because the 2011 offense violated the conditional discharge of the 2009 offense.

Some may find that confusing, like Mongielo’s attorney Frank Housh did when Town Justice Raymond E. Schilling ruled Tuesday.

“I’m not sure what the sentence is,” Housh said at first.

Housh then said Schilling had fined Mongielo in 2010 for the first offense, which Mongielo paid. Therefore that case should be closed, Housh said.

“I don’t think the law allows it,” Housh said. “You can’t sentence him again.”

Schilling said jail time was conditional on whether or not Mongielo violated the sign ordinance during the original discharge. Mongielo had been sentenced in September 2010, while the latest ordinance violation occurred in August 2011.

“And the law allows for jail time,” the judge said.

Housh countered by questioning whether a town court could hold jurisdiction over an individual for four years.

Mongielo is slated to begin his term on May 17, but Housh said he would ask for a stay of sentence. That would give him time to file an appeal with county court. Mongielo will not be incarcerated while the appeal is being considered.

Mongielo, who appeared in court with dozens of supporters, has said the sign was used to promote community events and fundraisers. He has said the court proceedings were an attack on free speech and are politically motivated. 

“It is a sad day in America,” Mongielo said after court.


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