Niagara Gazette

Local News

September 24, 2012

Lockport attorney admits Mongielo wasn't offered jury trial

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — David J. Mongielo did not have an opportunity for a jury trial when he was in court facing a charge of violating the Town of Lockport’s electronic sign ordinance a second time, the town prosecutor admitted Friday in Niagara County Court.

The auto repair shop owner was in court appealing his conviction and 15-day jail sentence before Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III. Mongielo’s appeal was based on questions about the lack of a jury trial, the constitutionality of the sign law, the conviction and the resulting sentence. Murphy will issue a decision sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Both Frank Housh, Mongielo’s attorney, and Bradley Marble, the Lockport town prosecutor, agreed Mongielo was not given a chance to exercise his right to a jury trial. That could lead to a new trial.

“We are conceding the right of a jury trial was not afforded,” Marble said in court.

“All I was asking for is a fair trial,” Mongielo said afterward.

Mongielo was sentenced and fined April 17 in Lockport Town Court by Justice Raymond E. Schilling, after being found guilty by Schilling in March and a nonjury trial in December. The jail sentence was the result of the violation coming within the one-year conditional discharge Mongielo received on Sept. 14, 2010 for his first violation of the sign ordinance. He was fined $750 at that time, $250 for each count of violating the ordinance.

The condition for the discharge was that Mongielo could not break the sign law again. Nearly a year after the first conviction, Mongielo’s sign was videotaped by Donald Jablonski, the town zoning board chairman. On Aug. 25, 2011, the sign advertised a fundraiser for an injured Niagara County Sheriff’s deputy during which the image changed every few seconds, according to the nine minute video shot by Jablonski.

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