Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

March 20, 2012

Mongielo found guilty in sign case

By Bill Wolcott
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

TOWN OF LOCKPORT — The David J. Mongielo sign saga will go on for another month.

Town Justice Raymond E. Schilling found the owner of Mongielo’s Auto Specialties on Robinson Road guilty of violating a town ordinance, but sentencing was delayed until April.

Mongielo’s attorney, Frank Housh, argued he needed time to study the transcripts of July, 2010 conviction and Dec. 2011 conviction.

“There’s so much wrong, I don’t know where to begin,” Housh said. “There is so much procedurally and morally wrong.”

Prosecutor Bradley Marble countered that the case had gone on long enough. “We’re asking for a sentence tonight. There’s no need to waste the court’s time,” he said.

The defense attorney and prosecutor sparred a bit before Schilling ruled “We can wait a little bit longer” and granted a little more time.

Housh, who was hired by Mongielo in late December, made the point that he needed time to study the transcripts. “It’s clearly double jeopardy,” he said. “The court’s explanation made it clear it’s double jeopardy.”

There was a delay in getting the papers transcribed, according to Schilling.

Mongielo’s charge was for violating Lockport’s sign ordinance, which says any sign capable of changing its format or message may not change any more than once every 10 minutes.

“It’s a simple law he has to follow,” Marble said.

According to that law, Housh said, even clocks would be illegal.

Mongielo feels that the charges against him are politically motivated and pointed to other signs in the town that could also be in violation.

“An individual who has political differences with my client, who was also vested with the authority to charge the town ordinances, was sitting outside my client’s business and made the determination that the lights were flashing in a way that was inappropriate again.” the lawyer said.

As to not hiring a lawyer early in the dispute, Housh said that Mongielo did not realize he could be incarcerated.

“My client made a waiver of counsel. Whenever any defendant makes a waiver of counsel, especially in a circumstance where his liberty is at risk, it’s incumbent to make certain that that is an intelligent and knowing waiver,” Housh said.

“I never broke the rules,” Mongielo insisted and told his history of the sign dispute. “I was helping a friend.”

He was cited on three different occasions and has paid fines.

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