Niagara Gazette

June 28, 2013

Lockport repair shop owner known for sign fight facing new charges

By Mark Scheer
Niagara Gazette

A Lockport auto mechanic who has been embroiled in a lengthy court case involving the legality of a sign in front of his Robinson Road repair shop is now facing several charges after being stopped at a seat belt checkpoint. 

David J. Mongielo, 46, of 5099 Day Road, was stopped by Lockport police at a checkpoint on Lincoln Avenue at 1:49 p.m. Thursday. Police reports indicated that Mongielo was charged with two counts of obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest, unregistered motor vehicle, operating a motor vehicle using a cell phone and second-degree harassment. During the arrest, officer William Jones sustained abrasions to his left knee, according to police reports.

The report said Mongielo was stopped for a traffic infraction at the checkpoint and became uncooperative and refused to comply with officers' requests to provide information. When told he was under arrest, Mongielo began to struggle with the patrol, according to the police report. 

Mongielo has been attempting to fight violations of the town's sign ordinance for several years. Town officials have charged that the type of LED signboard he has in front of his business does not conform with current laws. He has been in court several times on the matter and is now scheduled to return for a retrial on a second sign violation charge on July 29. 

Reached by telephone Friday night, Mongielo said he passed through the checkpoint in question not once, but twice. The first time through, he said, was not asked to pull over, nor was he charged with any violations. Mongielo said he did question the use of the checkpoint by police on his initial contact with patrol officers, telling them he considered it an infringement on his rights and those of other American citizens. 

"As far as I know, we don't live in a country where we have to go through checkpoints," he said. "We don't live in Nazi Germany."

The officers let him pass, he said. 

"If I was doing something wrong, why didn't they stop me the first time?" Mongielo said. 

Mongielo said it was on a return trip through the same area when police asked him to pull over. Mongielo said he complied with the request, but again questioned police, asking them to explain what crime he had committed.

"I'm simply exercising my rights," he said. "I have the right to understand if I'm being charged with a crime." 

Mongielo maintains his motor vehicle registration was valid at the time of the stop and that he was not talking on his cell phone while driving. He said he did have the cell phone in his hand when an officer approached his vehicle because he wanted to use it to record their interaction. 

Mongielo claims he was forcibly removed from the vehicle by an officer and aggressively taken down the ground. He said he believes officers overstepped their bounds and that he was the victim of police brutality. He said he intends to defend his version of events in court. 

"They never read me my Miranda rights, they never indicated that I was under arrest and they beat the crap out of me for no reason," he said. 

Mongielo was released on his own recognizance and is to be arraigned before Judge William Watson on Monday.