GLOVERSVILLE - Sno Kone Joe's operators have been harassing rival Mr. Ding-A-Ling, city police say, and they may end up losing their permit to sell their tasty treats in the city.
The two operators of the Sno Kone Joe ice cream trucks were charged Tuesday with stalking and harassing the operator of the Mr. Ding-A-Ling ice cream truck last month, police said.
Amanda C. Scott, 21, and Joshua V. Malatino, 34, both of 62 East Blvd., were charged with second-degree harassment, a violation, and fourth-degree stalking, a misdemeanor.
Police said the two were trying to keep Mr. Ding-A-Ling from selling ice cream in Gloversville.
Sno Kone Joe's city permit is up for renewal Saturday, and Mayor Dayton King, who has the final say on issuing the permit, this morning said it won't be renewed.
According to a news release from the police, Malatino and Scott harassed and stalked the Mr. Ding-A-Ling driver three times last month: April 16 on West Eighth Avenue, April 19 on Forest Street and Sunday on North Main Street.
Police said Scott and Malatino followed the rival truck, played their music at a high volume and yelled they have free ice cream in an attempt to draw customers away from the other truck, police said.
Police said Malatino told the Mr. Ding-A-Ling driver that Malatino's business controls the ice cream sales market in the city.
The driver of the Mr. Ding-A-Ling truck, Phillip Hollister, 53, of Montgomery Street said this morning he "never wanted it to come to this" and wished the situation stopped, but it never did.
"It started the first day I was out," Hollister said. "April 16th was my first day, and I would be followed by Sno Kone Joe. I took care of the customers I had and turned my music off and went on. I tried to turn down different streets until I came to Prospect and Main, where an officer was on the side and he saw them following me and asked what was going on."
Hollister said he plans to continue to sell ice cream in the city, but said the alleged harassment has hurt his business.
"That is currently my only income and I was trying to make some money, but unfortunately, I haven't made any money yet because I always have to leave the city," Hollister said.
Malatino on Wednesday suggested there is more to the story.
"We recorded every incident when we were in the same neighborhood of that truck, so everything will come out in the end," Malatino said.
He declined to comment further and directed all additional questions to the pair's lawyer, Bill Lorman of Amsterdam.
"He will let you know that there is a whole bunch of evidence and big thing of harassment with the chief of police documented," Malatino said.
Lorman did not return a call seeking comment.
Police Chief Donald VanDeusen said Malatino's behavior was an issue at the end of last season for another ice cream truck driver, who declined to get a permit this year because of Sno Kone Joe's actions, the chief said.
VanDeusen said he organized a meeting between the previous driver and Malatino last year that ended with Malatino "being very rude to the other individual."
At that point, VanDeusen said, he warned Malatino to stop his actions or face possible charges and risk the ability to be a vendor in the city.
Police Capt. John Sira said as long as a truck vendor acquires a permit from the city clerk, the vendor is permitted to sell products in the city.
"It is a wide-open market," Sira said.
Both ice cream trucks have permits to operate in the city, said Deputy City Clerk Cindy Ostrander. However, she said, the Sno Kone Joe permit is set to expire Saturday.
In these matters, she said, the Police Department provides a recommendation to the mayor to determine if a new permit will be issued.
VanDeusen said he recommended the mayor not reissue the permit and Mayor Dayton King has notified the city clerk not to renew it.
"I am going to stand behind our police chief and take his recommendation," King said this morning. "It is certainly a police matter, and the charter has it be that the mayor makes the final decision, but I think there will be very few times, if any, where I am going to disagree with the police chief's recommendation."
Sira said the actions of Malatino and Scott were "brought to light by one of our patrol officers observing some of this behavior and contacting Mr. Ding-A-Ling inquiring if this has been ongoing, and we followed up from there."
Sira said the Mr. Ding-A-Ling driver did nothing wrong.
"The Police Department [was] not in a position to allow that type of conduct to go on because we had concerns it was going to escalate into violence," VanDeusen said. "It actually did at one point last year when Amanda was assaulted. That was an incident where a homeowner was frustrated by their activities and attempted to quell it, and unfortunately, took the incident into her own hands."
In that incident in September, city police charged Kathleen Zapp, of 7 Oakland Ave., with second-degree harassment after she was accused of hitting the ice cream vendor in the face.
VanDeusen also said a city resident recently complained about an ice cream truck parking in a no-parking zone in front of a school.
"I personally had to meet with Mr. Malatino on the street because he was in a no-parking zone and initially refused to move, at which point after some conversation, he agreed to move his truck," VanDeusen said. "From that point forward, he has been threatening to sue the Police Department and everyone else."
"If I don't do my due diligence and take notes when people complain and follow up on it, then I wouldn't be doing my job," VanDeusen said about the harassment issue. "It is unfortunate that it had to come to this."
News of the ice cream truck vendors' case spread across the country Wednesday and this morning, with print, broadcast and Internet outlets publicizing the story.
Levi Pascher can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.