1. #1
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    Jul 1999
    Flanders, NJ

    Default Remember the Lawn Jockey Caper?

    Ex-Mendham firefighter gets earful from judge
    Dave Laurano pleads guilty to stealing famous jockey statue


    MENDHAM TWP. --Municipal Court Judge Vincent McMann had some harsh words for former Mendham Borough firefighter Dave Laurano, who pleaded guilty on Wednesday to stealing the locally famous lawn jockey statue from the front of the Black Horse Inn two years ago.

    "In this matter I could consider jail time ... for no other reason than to send a message," McMann said. "What I am going to do instead is require that you do community service for a period of 20 days and I hope by doing this, a message is sent that this was the most inappropriate and the most disrespectful thing to do."

    "... I hope along the way, it's something you're ashamed of."

    In addition to community service, Laurano was ordered to pay a $1,006 fine -- the harshest sentence of all the local firefighters who appeared in court with him on Wednesday on charges of receiving stolen property and possession of stolen property.

    Stephen Basho, the only non-firefighter among them, was exonerated of all charges involving the lawn jockey. He declined to speak to a reporter after the charges against him were dropped.

    Firefighters William Willshaw and Richard DeNicola were both ordered to pay fines of $200 plus court costs after pleading guilty to possession of stolen property, the statue, and knowingly receiving stolen property.

    The lawn jockey, a well-known symbol at the Black Horse Inn on West Main Street, was stolen two years ago. Its owners offered a reward for its return. It has been valued at about $2,000.

    Willshaw, DeNicola and Basho, the two firefighters'roommate, were all arrested April 16 by Mendham Township Police after they discovered the missing jockey in the basement of their home. Police went to their home on a report of a quarrel.

    Laurano turned himself in to the Mendham Borough police in May, admitting to Detective Christopher Hopf in a written statement that he had, in fact, been the one to actually steal the jockey from outside the restaurant.

    Laurano had been drinking the night the jockey disappeared, and he later dropped it off at Willshaw and DeNicola's home on Garabrant Street, Hopf said in a previous interview. At the time, they still resided in the borough.

    Laurano stood beside his lawyer, Peter Gilbreth. He did not speak, and he refused to comment to a reporter afterwards.

    Gilbreth pleaded with the judge for a lesser sentence for Laurano, noting that Laurano willingly turned himself into police even though he was not legally obligated to do so.

    "He said, ...'I've done something wrong. I'm the one to blame. I'm the one who started this,''' Gilbreth said to the judge, quoting Laurano.

    "... As I indicated, he cooperated fully. It has been embarrassing for him. His picture was in the paper, and that was somewhat unfair."

    But Laurano's willingness to turn himself in did not matter much to the judge.

    McMann pointed out that had the Mendham Township police never discovered the jockey in Laurano's friends' basement, then it could hypothetically still be missing to this day.

    McMann also said that prior to the arrests, he, too, wondered where that lawn jockey had gone.

    "It was very unfair to do this to the people who own and operate that restaurant," he said.

    Gilbreth said later he was satisfied with Laurano's sentence. Since Laurano was arrested, he resigned from the fire department.

    "It's been difficult," Gilbreth said of Laurano's life after his confession.

    "He lives locally and the notoriety is an added punishment."

  2. #2
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    Jun 2000
    Eclectic (no, NOT electric), Alabama


    It has been embarrassing for him. His picture was in the paper, and that was somewhat unfair
    Well cry me a river

    The guy steals the statue, keeps it for TWO years.

    His actions tarnish the reputation of all the innocent firefighters in that area.

    And his lawyer thinks it is somewhat unfair that his picture was in the paper!?

    NEWSFLASH FOR THE LAWYER: Newspapers regularly publish pictures of criminals, and your client is a criminal.

  3. #3
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    Jul 1999
    Flanders, NJ


    Note on the defense lawyer: I know him very well. He is arguably the best criminal defense lawyer in Morris County. Remember, he is advocating for his client.

  4. #4
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    Join Date
    May 2004
    Eastern Central Kansas


    Well, in this world when ff's with dui's on duty that get less than what the lawn jockey stealer got. I would be angry at the court also.
    FF I
    FF II
    Hazmat Operations

    The light at the end of the tunnel has been temporarly shut off due to the current work load. The Mangement

    When all else fails USE DUCT-TAPE!!!

    My views posted in this fourm are my personal views only and do not reflect on any agencies that I am afiliated with.

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