11/27/12 Free Utilities

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Christmas is approaching.  But Sarasota police officer Sergeant Anthony Frangoni may not have been in the Christmas spirit.

Earlier this month Frangoni saw five homeless men under a gazebo in Sarasota’s Gillespie Park.  He arrested one of them for smoking a cigarette.  In a city park.  Outdoors.  No doubt Sarasota is much safer after getting this scofflaw off the streets. 

Frangoni then noticed one of the other men had his cell phone plugged into an outlet.  He arrested that man, too.  According to the charging document, 28-year old Darren Kersey was charged with “Theft of Utilities.”

In his charging statement, Frangoni wrote that “theft of city utilities’ (sic) will not be tolerated during this bad economy.”

Kersey spent the night in jail.

Just 10 blocks away from Gillespie Park is the City Hall.  In the parking lot is an electric vehicle charging station.  It’s free to the public.  There are four more around the city.  They’re also free.

Anyone who purchases, say, the $41,000 Chevy Volt with seven and-a-half thousand dollars in federal subsidies can charge their car for free in Sarasota for up to 3 hours.  But plugging in a cell phone for 15 minutes is a crime.

Thankfully, a judge tossed the case.