A Clinton Hill couple’s effort to promote their new pet-grooming business brought out the city’s fangs — and now the fledgling shop is in danger of going under.
Simone and Ricardo Olton freely admit that they illegally posted fliers on city property shortly after their Grand Avenue shop Paws-n-Claws opened last year — though the Oltons said they didn’t know it was against the law to do so.
The couple continued to hang the advertising, not knowing that a Sanitation enforcement agent was secretly tearing them down and holding them as evidence in a future case against the Oltons.
Finally, on Oct. 24, 2007, the flier-hoarding agent entered Paws-n-Claws, which is at the corner of Fulton Street. The Oltons admitted that they had posted the fliers, and promised to take them all down.
But it was too late. Two weeks later, 116 summonses — totaling $8,700 — showed up. In one big mail sack.
Close inspection revealed that the agent had written 62 of the tickets on Sept. 20 and 50 on Oct. 17 — well before he made his one visit to the Oltons’ shop.
And that’s kosher, a Sanitation spokesman said.
“We don’t mail Notices of Violations until violation(s) are written for all NOVs, including those sighted at a later date,” the spokesman, Matthew LiPani, said in an Orwellian e-mail to The Brooklyn Paper.
The Oltons fought the tickets at the city’s Environmental Control Board, but lost when a judge ruled that the city can take as long as it wants to serve tickets.
Their appeal was denied this week, but the point is basically moot, given that the city had already turned over the task of collecting the money to an outside agency. Ricardo Olton said he would attempt another appeal and reach out to local politicians — but in the meantime, the couple is on the brink of going under.
“If I got just one ticket, I would have taken down all the fliers,” Simone Olton said.
Ricardo said his life has become “a nightmare.”
“I’m skipping meals just to pay what should have been a little fine,” he said.
©2008 Community News Group
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