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NonViolent Action: Lyons Traffic Ticket

In order by date. Start Here. Most recent info posted at top. Last update: December 09, 2011

This has been a decision which wasn't easy.  When my  mother fell ill I curbed my activities at the Syracuse Federal Building so there would be no risk of jail for me (which would put her in a nursing home without my care).  The first traffic ticket for unlicensed operation came in July 2005 and was due to a Child Support suspension. It was in my hometown and the Judge/Prosecutor were nice about it and just wanted me to plead guilty and get it over.  I was almost ready to do that, but just couldn't say 'guilty' to a crime -- not to mention, I was still driving just about every day.  I felt the indignity of being a criminal in my hometown and felt the matter should be resolved. 

NonViolent Action ?  I think so. NonViolent action is much more than just 'niceness' and 'non-cooperation' -- it is action. I'm willing (barely!) to step forward and say, if this is the law then I have been breaking it - prosecute me for I feel it is unjust.  It has required a lot of Faith to do this and I could very easily end up in jail. A disaster to my entire family.

August-Oct 2011 -  FINALLY RESOLVED.  My former spouse and I were able to reach a negotiated settlement (see details on this page).  My license was restored!

April, 2010 - I suspended my most recent reform actions because I had to get back to work -- but I can't.  DMV won't let me drive (even with a restricted license) because I have a conviction for driving without a license.  They tell me, "only Child Support can lift the suspension."  But as details below show, Family Court and my former spouse have no interest in lifting the suspension.

June 8, 2009 -  A real shocker.  I have to go into Lyons Village Court for sentencing (a fine) for an unlicensed operation ticket (details below).  I'm shocked when Assistant DA Richard Wunder asks that I be sent to jail immediately for the 'maximum sentence'.

Domenic was at home.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing and pleaded with the Judge -- fortunately, I was just given a fine.  I understood this was some type of 'revenge' from the DA's office for my audacity in asking for a trial (even thought it was my right) on the matter which I asserted involved police misconduct.

People sometimes ask me what 'volunteer' for jail by NonViolent Action -- because it will happen anyway at a time the 'system' selects.  A much more powerful statement of Faith and belief is made in voluntary action.

May 11, 2009 - It was just a 'bench' trial (no jury).  It was strange to hear witnesses in 'uniform' tell a false version of events.  A local Village policeman was a witness to the event, I can't even get the Village Police Chief to identify who it was so he can be questioned.

Before the trail I get a call from a NY State Police Captain who tells me they investigated my complaint (see Feb 9 below).  He tells me the trooper was wrong in towing my car out of my driveway and that they will send me a check for the towing charge.  A few weeks later I get the check from a 'petty cash' account, no letter, no report -- just a check?

I wonder if this is proper 'procedure.'  Before cashing, I make a copy of the check and decided I may write a letter regarding this.

May 2nd, 2009 - A scheduling letter comes in the mail.  The trial is on for May 11th, at 8:30 am.  This is short notice and no word on the subpoenas?  It does not make any sense and John will have to call the Court next week.  Subpoenaed witnesses should have more notice.   Perhaps the Judge finds the witnesses unnecessary?

April 15, 2009 -  There is another appearance.   John is the last person called and another ADA is there.  She wants John to accept the reduced charge.  John says no.  Judge Forgione then harangues John for several minutes telling him this is a waste of time and that John doesn't know what entrapment is...  It is not clear that the Judge has read the earlier letter and the ADA attempts to reign him in by just saying, "let him get his subpoenas, and call his witnesses at trial."  John is told he will be called to pick up his subpoenas once a trial date is set.

Things can be difficult in your own home town with people you know. The judge is a very elderly man and must be close to 80.  After his lecture in Court, I should have probably asked for dismissal right there based on his clear bias, but didn't think of it in time.    I'm surprised this is moving forwarded with a State Trooper who clearly lied about his conduct in an investigation and others who are trying to conceal information....

April 1st, 2009 - John is preparing for trial and sends a letter to Judge Forgione with attached subpoenas for witnesses.  The government officials John felt abused their power and were involved with entrapment.   A few weeks before a scheduled trial of Apr 15th,  John calls the Judge's clerk and asks about the subpoenas.  He is told, "there will be no trial that day, they will make you an offer."    He also gets a letter that the AUO charge has been changed to just unlicensed operations, which now precludes a jury trial.

March 4th, 2009 - There is a court appearance.  John speaks to ADA David Shaw and is asked what he is willing to please guilty to in the form of a reduced charge.  The ADA offers simple unlicensed operation (a violation), instead of aggravated unlicensed operation (the actual charge, a misdemeanor).   John simply states he is NOT GUILTY and wants a jury trial.  He is told to expect a trial date.

February 9th, 2009 - John gets a call from a Sergeant at the local State Police barracks in Lyons.  It is regarding a formal complaint John had submitted in January.   When he had been arrested on Nov 17th (below), the trooper had ordered his car towed right out of the driveway of his house.  It appeared to be a misuse of power.   It was quite a surprise for John to hear that the trooper "didn't know he lived there"  and "there were no witnesses" (Even though it is a residential neighborhood and the address matched his license?  There was also a Lyons Police car parked only a few houses away watching the whole thing. Not to mention the local tow-truck driver who also knew John had lived there.)  John asked for a formal written reply.

This kind of thing is just disturbing.  To watch people in authority (public servants), lie to justify their actions.  It was so clear here, but in many cases it turns into their testimony against yours -- who is a Judge going to believe?

January 21, 2009 - The assigned DA, Mr. David Shaw, was not present.  The matter was adjourned until March 4th.

January 14, 2009 - John sent a letter to Wayne County DA Richard Healey regarding entrapment and the conduct of officials.  John has also tried to contact the Lyon's police chief on two occasions regarding the incident and had no response.

January 7, 2009 -  John appeared in Court for the pending tickets that were written on Nov. 17th (below) when he was arrested in front of his home. After discussion with his assigned Counsel John decided it would be best to represent himself for the remainder of the proceeding; especially since his defense involves 'entrapment' by local officials who arranged the 'sting' operation for Nov. 17th (more details soon).    His next appearance date is January 21st.

December 3, 2008 - John went to court in the Village of Lyons.  He was sentenced to time-served for the unpaid ticket from 2005.  The pending AUO from the arrest on Nov 17th (below) was scheduled for another appearance on January 7th, 2009.  John was quite relieved and thankful to both Judge Forgione and ADA Wunder for his release in plenty of time for Christmas.

November 25, 2008 - John met his attorney Mr. John Grow, Wayne County public defender in the morning.  Mr. Grow told him he was trying to get the court date moved up to Dec. 3rd and to try to get John freed from jail.  Later that day John was checked by the nursing staff.  His weight dropped from 153 to 137 pounds.  A blood test was taken, but the levels weren't critical yet.  John submitted a medical form asking the jail to take action. 

Today a newspaper article about John was published in the Finger Lakes Times regional paper.

November 21, 2008 - John was placed in a medical area of the jail and he is being monitored by medical staff.  Click here to read an article on the recent developments.  Later that night he was taken to the emergency room.

November 19,  2008 -  John was arraigned at 8:30 a.m.  Lyons Village Judge Forgione set a bail of $200 for the arrest that occurred on the 17th, even though John said he would definitely appear at any court dates.  He then assigned another bail of $200 for the unpaid fine for the violation in 2005.  He was sent back to jail until his next court appearance on Dec. 17th

November 17, 2008 -  John was arrested at night in the driveway of his house as he was coming home from work.  A State Trooper had followed him and a Lyons police car was parked only a few houses from his home, also waiting.   He was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation and in a bit of surprise they actually towed the car out of his driveway.

John was taken to the Wayne County Jail.  He was polite and non-resissive but he remained passive during processing.  At one point he was told to stand up or he would be pepper-sprayed.  He did not comply and was eventually sprayed with two doses.  It was a very painful experience and John couldn't open his eyes for several hours.   He is scheduled to appear in Court on November 19th.

As he did several years ago, John will be non-cooperating with the unjust sentence by remaining passive and not following jail orders while in captivity. He will not voluntarily eat or drink, but expects the State to completely take care of him by tube feeding (as happened two years ago). He does not want to hurt himself and this is NOT a hunger-strike.

November 14, 2008 - John was pleased to hear that a ticket for aggravated unlicensed operation from the town of Macedon had been reduced to unlicensed operator (simple traffic ticket).  He wrote a letter to the Judge and DA to express his appreciation.

November 13, 2008 - John had tried to call the Assistant DA David Shaw who had been assigned to his case in Lyons.  He wanted to talk to him before the scheduled court appearance on the 19th.  He didn't hear anything so wrote him a letter regarding trying to reach a just resolution.

October 15, 2008 - (Went to court and found out it has been adjourned again until Nov 19th, it appears a new ADA was assigned to my case). Court is scheduled for 8:30 AM in Lyons, NY.  Not knowing what will happen I also prepare a letter to the County Sheriff Pisciotti explaining my non-cooperation and the I will not voluntarily eat or drink while in 'captivity'.   Not a hunger-strike, I do want them to take care of me via feeding tube...

October 7, 2008 -  I am arrested while out of town at another Court apperance, on a 'warrant' issued by the local Judge in Lyons.  It's quite a surprise and I'm told to return to Court on October 15 -- pay or got to jail!  I write a letter to the Judge (recommended reading), and send a list message out to the group.

September, 2008 - Got a surprise  letter from DMV regarding the unpaid fine from three years ago!  I wrote a letter to the local Judge and DA, along with some political representives.

Dec 12, 2005 - The trial ignored the significant issues and John is found guilty of one offense. A summary is in our News Release.

In his opening statement John admitted he had driven on over 100 other occasions and  had driven to court that morning and was planning on driving home afterwards ... He rejected an earlier plea deal that would have resulted in just a fine and instead wrote the Court and DA's office giving details of over 100 other incidents of driving while his license was suspended.  He told Wayne County DA Richard Healey that he wanted this matter resolved honestly.  He wanted the great support and love he had given his son recognized and didn't want to live in fear of being arrested as a criminal in his home town for the slightest traffic violation.(... read more).

Dec 9, 2005 - What to do if taken to jail?  Read some thoughts on 'noncooperation' and NonViolent Action.

Dec 5, 2005 - I write directly to Mr. Richard Healy, Wayne County District Attorney.  I want to make sure there is no obstacle to being arraigned on 100 additional incidents of aggravated unlicensed operation on the day of the Trial.  I also include some case law members of the group have sent me.

Dec 4, 2005 - A message goes out on our mailing list which contains a lot of your FEEDBACK to what has been happening.  It answers many of your questions.

Nov 29, 2005 - I mailed a Discovery Demand to the prosecutor, Mr. Wunder.  I'm really not even sure what I should be allowed to get before the trial.

Nov 19, 2005 - In the local Village Court I write to the Judge & submit a motion to include over 100 additional incidents of driving with a suspended license..  Read this message for a complete background on what happened and how I ended up $55,000 behind in support.

Sep 14, 2005 - In local Village Court I write the Judge to assign counsel for a ticket I had received in July for driving with a suspended license.  The request was denied. A trial is later scheduled in Lyons Village Court on December 12th.

July 12, 2005 - I was stopped and ticketed in my hometown for knowingly driving with a suspended license (Aggravated Unlicensed Operation). It is in the Village Court and I know the people. They are trying to be nice and would be happy to offer me "Unlicensed Operation" if I would just plead guilty. At the time I was pulled over (because a turn signal wasn't working), I was taking my Mother to a doctor's appointment.