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Mongielo sentenced to 15 days over sign rule

A long-running battle between auto repair shop owner David J. Mongielo and the Town of Lockport resulted in a jail sentence for Mongielo on Tuesday.

Town Justice Raymond E. Schilling sentenced Mongielo to 15 days in Niagara County Jail and a $250 fine for his second violation of the town's law banning video signs.

"We no longer live in a free country," Mongielo said after court. He won't have to report to jail right away because his case will be appealed.

Mongielo, an insurgent Republican committeeman who ran unsuccessfully for town supervisor in 2009 in the GOP-dominated town, had been convicted in 2010 on three counts of violating the ordinance barring signs that change their images more than once every 10 minutes.

On Sept. 14, 2010, Schilling sentenced him to a $750 fine and a one-year conditional discharge. The condition was that Mongielo not violate the sign law again.

But on Aug. 25, 2011, the sign in front of Mongielo's Robinson Road repair shop showed an advertisement for a fundraiser for an injured sheriff's deputy. A nine-minute videotape, shot by Donald J. Jablonski, the town GOP and Zoning Board chairman, showed the image changing every two seconds.

A nonjury trial Dec. 28 resulted in Mongielo's conviction, announced by Schilling last month.

The $250 fine was for the newest violation; the jail time was for violating the conditional discharge on the 2010 conviction.

At first, Schilling ordered Mongielo to surrender April 27, but defense attorney Frank T. Housh asked for more time, and Schilling set the jail date for May 17.

However, Housh said he will file a motion with Niagara County Court to stay the sentence pending an appeal of the conviction to that court.

Housh also objected to Schilling's decision to impose jail time on the violation of the 2010 conditional discharge.