Mark Lett's two loud-music offenses brought a $150 fine.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mark Lett has reason to whistle over the way his two loud-music offenses were handled in municipal court.
Officials said that because he pleaded no contest to both at the same time, both were treated as a first offense, making them minor misdemeanors with no potential jail time or mandatory fine. A first offense carries a fine of $50 to $250.
Penalty for a second conviction is a mandatory $500 fine, up to 60 days in jail and makes the sound equipment subject to forfeiture.
Lett, 34, of New Castle, Pa., was on probation on a drug conviction and had a warrant out for his arrest on a loud-music charge when Patrolmen Marc Gillette and Jeff Roberts arrested him June 25 on another loud-music charge.
Fines: On Monday, Magistrate Anthony J. Sertick fined Lett $50 on one charge and $100 on the second. As a magistrate, Sertick cannot preside over cases in which jail time is a possibility.
Sertick declined to answer questions Friday and said to ask the assistant prosecutor, John A. Regginello, about the case.
Regginello said the arresting officers couldn't show the loud-music charge they were writing as a "second offense" because Lett hadn't been convicted of the first yet.
Regginello said he had the option of proceeding with the first offense in front of Sertick and then dismissing the second charge and asking the officers to rewrite it as a second offense. Had that been done, the case would have been assigned to a judge because of the jail time involved.
Regginello said he chose to go forward, treating both charges as misdemeanors. Lett had decided to represent himself and agreed to plead no contest to both charges, and they discussed fines of $50 each, the prosecutor said, noting Sertick made the second fine $100.
Probation: Had Lett been convicted of a jailable offense, it would have placed his probation to Municipal Judge Elizabeth A. Kobly in jeopardy. Lett was in her courtroom last October, when he pleaded no contest to a drug-abuse charge. She sentenced him to 30 days in jail, suspended it all, fined him $100 and placed him on probation for one year.
The city's loud-music ordinance was revamped in February, adding a provision that the sound be clearly heard at a distance of 50 feet or more. The revised ordinance also eliminated the mandatory three days in jail for a third offense.
When arrested by the bike patrol officers last month, Lett told them that he also has cases pending in two Mahoning County courts.
Records show that he's due in Austintown Aug. 6, charged with driving while under court suspension. On Aug. 23, he's due in Boardman, charged with disorderly conduct and loud noise.