LOCKPORT – David J. Mongielo, the auto shop repair owner fighting the Town of Lockport’s law against video signs, continued to deny Wednesday that Town Court has any power over him, but the legal train kept rolling toward a new trial on his sign violation charge.
The town has a law barring signs that change “format” more than once every 10 seconds. Mongielo, who called the law “ridiculous,” was convicted of violating it with his LED signboard on Robinson Road in 2010 and again in 2011. The second violation came while the one-year conditional discharge from his first conviction was still in effect.
Town Justice Raymond E. Schilling denied Mongielo’s motion to dismiss the charges, and he scheduled two hearings for April 24.
The first hearing will be on Town Prosecutor Bradley D. Marble’s request to introduce evidence of Mongielo’s first sign ordinance conviction in the new trial on the second alleged violation. The second hearing will be on the accusation that the second offense constituted a violation of the conditional discharge Mongielo was given after his first conviction.
“This is a conspiracy to put me in jail,” said Mongielo, who faces up to 15 days behind bars for each offense.
He was convicted twice by Schilling in nonjury trials, but Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III last fall overturned the second conviction and the conditional discharge violation. Among other things, Murphy said Mongielo was entitled to a jury trial because he risks jail time.
“The court still, to this date, hasn’t proved its jurisdiction,” said Mongielo, who no longer has an attorney. “I’m here as a special appearance because I’m being forced to be here.”
In a six-page ruling denying the motion to throw out the charges, Schilling wrote, “This court will not joust with Mongielo as to whether it has been created correctly.”
He also wrote, “The Town Board has the authority to create local ordinances to govern the citizens of the Town of Lockport.”
“I am not a citizen. I am one of the people. Therefore, that decision does not apply,” Mongielo told Schilling. “You and Marble are conspiring to put me through an unlawful court.”
Mongielo’s retrial on the second offense has not been scheduled, but Marble said he wanted to have the conditional discharge violation handled separately.
“It’ll be shorter. We don’t have to empanel a jury,” he explained.
Marble announced that he intends to call Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Donald J. Jablonski as a witness at the conditional discharge hearing. Jablonski took video pictures of Mongielo’s changing sign.
Mongielo has refused at all court appearances to sign a waiver of his right to counsel. “Signing that document entraps me into the jurisdiction of this court,” he explained. “Under constitutional law, this document doesn’t exist.”