A judge in New York State, has sentenced a Lockport businessman to jail for violating the local ordinance on electronic displays.
In Lockport, the law dictates electronic signs can’t change more than once every ten minutes. In 2009, business owner David Mongielo was first found in violation.
“The law reads that the format or the message may only change once every ten minutes, so the program is the format, and the video is the format, so that alone means it’s legal,” contended Mongielo.
He had to pay a fine of $700, and if he violated the law within a year, he would have to serve 15 days in jail. Days before the year was up, Mongielo’s sign illuminated an upcoming fundraiser for Niagara County Sheriff’s deputy Allen Gerhardt, who lost both legs in an auto accident.
Mongielo argued, “Displaying a fundraising event, happy birthday message, anything non-commercial, it’s my constitutional right; they can’t regulate it.”
He was found in violation again and Tuesday night learned his sentence.
“It’s shocking; it’s disturbing,” he said. “I am a patriot and the dysfunction of America, it can show we don’t have any freedoms locally.”
Mongielo will have to pay a $250 fine and will have to serve a 15-day bail sentence beginning May 17th for breaking the original one-year requirement.
His attorney, Frank Housh, said, “There’s so much wrong with this prosecution – sign ordinance.”
The prosecutor in the case didn’t want to comment. Mongielo and his attorney say they plan to appeal.