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Tarpon Springs to give fake 'no parking' sign case a legal review

TARPON SPRINGS — A city commissioner wants to see what recourse the city has against a man who put up fake "no parking" signs that resulted in 233 city-issued tickets.

In an e-mail Friday, Commissioner Peter Dalacos asked the city attorney to research and advise the Tarpon Springs City Commission about its legal options in dealing with developer Mike Bronson, who told police he put up 22 unauthorized signs near Jack Willie's Tarpon Turtle, a busy restaurant in the area.

Dalacos wants City Attorney Jim Yacavone to determine if Bronson can be held responsible for reimbursing the people who received the tickets, the cost for the process of refunding money, the Police Department's time and attorney fees.

"I feel we need to have our legal team research all avenues to recover those monies," Dalacos said.

Yacavone said he will have an answer to Dalacos' request early next week.

"I've got to sort it all out," Yacavone said. "It's pretty unusual. The issue doesn't crop up so much that the answer is on the tip of my tongue."

In Friday's e-mail, Dalacos pointed to a state statute that says it is unlawful to post signs that "resemble an official traffic control device." A violation is "a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation," the statute says.

Dalacos' request comes on the heels of a Police Department investigation, also requested by Dalacos, that said Bronson admitted to putting up the signs after initially denying it.

Tarpon Turtle owner Don Alvino has said that Bronson used the fake signs to hurt his business.

Alvino and Bronson were business partners with Alvino initially leasing the Tarpon Turtle from Bronson with a five-month option to buy. In September 2006, Alvino exercised the option and purchased the restaurant for $3.4 million.

In the report, acting police Chief Robert Kochen said Bronson admitted putting up the signs about April of 2006. The 233 tickets were written over a two-year period, the report said.

Dalacos has been concerned with how the city handled the issue, not removing the signs when it was determined that they were fake in May 2007. The signs remain today while the city conducts a traffic study to determine where signs should go.

The city also is working with the Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court office to see what can be done about the 233 tickets that were written.

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at 445-4174 or dale@sptimes.com.

Tarpon Springs to give fake 'no parking' sign case a legal review 05/29/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 29, 2009 8:29pm]
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