Volume 75, Number 10 | July 27 - Aug. 2, 2005

Villager photos by Tomas

A friend held out Andre Stoltzus’s two tickets — one for $100 and one for $1,000 — in front of a shaken Stoltzus, right, issued by undercover Parks officers, above, who fined him for “reckless skateboarding” in Union Square.
The inset, at right, shows the amount of the fine on the more expensive ticket.

Skateboarder flips out over fines— $1,100! — in undercover bust

By Lauren Dzura

Skateboarder Andre Stoltzus, 13, thought it was just another fun day of doing cool stunts and jumps in Union Square last Thursday, when he found himself being ticketed by undercover Park Enforcement Patrol officers and hit with a colossal fine. He received three summonses, including a $100 fine and a $1,000 fine, for reckless skateboarding and his skateboard was confiscated, according to Robert Peters, Stoltzus's father. Stoltzus could not be reached for comment by press time.

Photographer Tomas Melchor photographed the event. Stoltzus was first skating on the steps at the south side of the park by 14th St., but then moved to the north side of the park, Melchor said. There, undercover officer allegedly grabbed the youth's shoulder and tried to force him into an unmarked van. The youth would not cooperate since the officers were not in uniform and the car was not marked.

“They have been giving tickets out lately on the south side,” Melchor said. “But they had gone months without bothering anyone.”

According to Melchor, officer threatened to handcuff the young skateboarder, causing the boy to be in tears, and also took his skateboard away.

“The cop said he was going to give the skateboard to his son,” Melchor said.

Lauren Giaccome, 19, a member of the No Police State Coalition, said she also saw Stoltzus get ticketed and briefly held by the officers. She said she didn't see whatever Stoltzus may have been doing before he got the ticket.

“He was at the lower left-hand corner of the steps with his skateboard,” she said. “They got him for being on the steps with his skateboard…. Then five of them were blocking him in the van, they wouldn't let him get out - he was crying.”

A Police Department spokesperson claimed there was no record of the incident and did not comment. PEP officers are safety officers with the same powers as police, but do not carry handguns.

Stoltzus has a court date on Sept. 7 and his family will have to now pay for a lawyer to defend him, Peters said.

“It's a little excessive,” Peters said. “I think it's ridiculously harsh and aggravating.”

He said the PEP officers gave his son the $1,000 fine because they claim to have stopped him four times for the same offense. “Why did they do it? - because they're jerks,” he said. “He's a 13-year-old kid.”

He said his son only told him that he was walking through Union Square when the officers ticketed him.

The square is a popular spot for wild-style skateboarding tricks. But Bill Castro, Manhattan borough Parks commissioner, recently told The Villager that Park Enforcement Patrol and police officers would start cracking down on skateboarders who “grind” on the plaza's stair railings, do tricks on the granite steps or do other sorts of street skating that may be considered illegal.
Peters said his ex-wife had asked the undercover officer to define what reckless skateboarding was, but the officer could not give her a clear definition.

“Shouldn't [the PEP officers] be looking for terrorists with bombs in their backpacks instead of kids on skateboards?” asked Peters.

Stoltzus mentioned to Melchor that he lives in Brooklyn and since it's a long distance from the train station to his home, it's faster to skateboard. But, now without his board he will be forced to walk the long distance.

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