Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

September 15, 2010

Rapidly changing video sign garners $750 fine

By Joe Olenick
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

TOWN OF LOCKPORT — An auto repair shop owner will pay $750 in fines for violating the town’s sign ordinance, Town Justice Raymond E. Schilling ruled Tuesday.

Last month David J. Mongielo was found guilty on three counts of 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. Schilling ruled that Mongielo will be fined $250 for each of the counts.

The court also decided Mongielo would be sentenced to 15 days in jail if he were to violate the ordinance again over the next year, said town prosecutor Bradley Marble.

“If he doesn’t stay in compliance, he would be sentenced immediately,” Marble said.

Mongielo moved his business, Mongielo’s Auto Specialties, to Robinson Road from Pendleton in 2008. The sign, which was legal in Pendleton, was used to promote Mongielo’s business as well as community events and fundraisers. That was the purpose of the sign, Mongielo’s side argued, to assist others.

“His motivation was to help those in the community,” said Frank LoTempio, Mongielo’s attorney.

The town cited Mongielo on three separate dates last year, Feb. 2, March 28 and April 11, 2009. The case went to trial last month, with the town presenting photographs of Mongielo’s sign changing more than once within a 10 minute span. LoTempio objected to the photos, noting the times at which they were taken were just written down on paper and there was no official way to know the actual time. The pictures showed different images and messages displayed on the sign.

Town Building Inspector Brian Belson testified in July he recorded the times the pictures were taken and that the sign changed within only a few seconds. Mongielo has until Oct. 14 to file an appeal.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.