Largo man charged for putting up bumper stickers - WFLA News Channel 8

Largo man charged for putting up bumper stickers

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Joe Mazzara Joe Mazzara
PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) - Largo businessman Joe Mazzara is facing 12 counts of vandalism after being caught putting bumper stickers on street and stop signs across St. Petersburg, Clearwater and other Pinellas County cities.

“This is out of control and the police department has a lot more important things to deal with than bumper stickers,” said Mazzara.

The 67-year-old man started putting up the stickers because he's disgruntled with the judge who handled his divorce case.

“The moral here is they are trying to tell me ‘don't mess with a judge’ and my reply is ‘this is a first amendment issue’," Mazzara argues.

He admits he is the one who put up the bumper stickers to try and get his message across to as many people as possible.

But police stress, it is simply against the law, and it costs hundreds of dollars for city crews to remove the stickers.

“We just can't allow those stickers to remain up there, because if that practice is allowed to continue, then people utilize those as billboards,” said St. Petersburg Police spokesman Mike Puetz.  “We can't, we have to keep these signs open, so people can see what the message is, because it is a safety issue.”

When the bumper stickers started showing up by the hundreds everywhere, police set up surveillance cameras to try and catch Mazzara in the act.

"I think this is a total waste of taxpayer money,” said Mazzara.

St. Petersburg Police spokesman Mike Puetz refuted that:  "my message would be that he is the one who is wasting taxpayers money,” he said.

Mazzara doesn't plan to go down without a fight.

"I want my day in court,” Mazzara said.  “They have offered a plea deal, and they have modified the plea deal to be less than what they offered, but I am not interested in any plea deal."

If Mazzara is convicted on all 12 counts of vandalism, he could face up to sixty days in jail on each count.

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