Criminal Justice

71-Year-Old Pickleball Enthusiast Armed With Sharpie Arrested for Felony Criminal Mischief

Arslan Guney spent 10 hours in jail for making a few marks on a gym floor. He could still get three years in prison.

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Arslan Guney worked as an engineer for Vlasic Pickles. In retirement, he became an avid pickleball enthusiast. Now, the 71-year-old Denver man finds himself in a legal pickle.

On Thursday, Guney was arrested for felony criminal mischief for allegedly defacing a gym floor at one of the city's Department of Parks and Recreation facilities. If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison. The Denver Parks Department has also banned Guney from its facilities and is demanding that he pay close to $10,000 to cover the costs of his vandalism.

The vandalism in question? Guney had used a permanent marker to draw small squares around preexisting black "x" marks made by a Parks Department employee to mark out a pickleball course.

"It's a horrible misunderstanding. He immediately apologized. He immediately wanted to sit down and resolve this issue," says Hollynd Hoskins, the Denver attorney and former public defender, representing Guney. "Why are you going to arrest this gentleman and put him in jail?"

People have long been playing pickleball—a kind of oversized table tennis game similar to tennis or badminton—at Denver's Central Park Recreation Center.

The center's multiuse gym floor had permanent lines for basketball and volleyball. But not pickleball. Instead, the center provided players with floppy, removable yellow markers that could be used to stake out a temporary pickleball court.

This was hardly ideal. Setting up the yellow markers was time-consuming, and they didn't do a great job of marking off a court. Some of the players also complained that the movable markers were a tripping hazard.

To make the setup easier, a Parks Department employee added black 'x' marks on the floor of the gym in the fall of 2021. But avid players were still eager for their own permanent markings.

At the beginning of 2022, they recruited Guney—affectionately known as the "mayor of pickleball" because of his enthusiasm for the game—to negotiate with the Parks Department.

Earlier this month, Guney and the Parks Department had a meeting where department staff said they'd work on expanding the number of hours that the Central Park gym could be used for pickleball and consider making permanent markings. They also told Guney to come up with a diagram for precisely where temporary markings should go, so that gym staff could more quickly get the court set up.

Guney agreed. After regularly scheduled pickleball play the following Monday, he surveyed the court in preparation for making his diagram. Noticing that some of the pre-existing 'x' marks on the gym floor were in the wrong spot, Guney borrowed a marker from recreation center staff and drew black squares around the correctly positioned 'x's.

"He doesn't think anything of it. He thinks he's doing the right thing," says Hoskins.

That's not how the Parks Department saw it. When people showed up to play the next day, they were greeted with a sign saying that pickleball had been canceled.

Later that night, Guney received an email from the Parks Department saying that because of markings he made on the gym floor—which they said couldn't be removed without damaging the floor's finish—he was no longer allowed to use department-run recreation facilities or participate in recreation programs.

Things only got worse from there. On Wednesday, he received a call from a detective with the Denver Police Department telling him that the Parks Department had filed a criminal complaint for felony criminal mischief and that they were going to issue an arrest warrant.

Guney, shocked and horrified, tried to contact the Parks Department to sort things out. He was met with silence.

At this point, people started contacting Hoskins—an avid pickleball player herself—to see if she could help Guney. Hoskins says she visited the Central Park rec center to examine the markings for herself, and didn't even notice them at first. People using the court for a basketball game told her that they weren't bothered by them.

Assuming there had been some big misunderstanding, Hoskins agreed to represent Guney pro bono. Immediately, she set about trying to get a meeting with the Parks Department to sort everything out. But the department didn't budge. They said that they wanted Guney arrested and were set on pursuing felony criminal charges.

The Parks Department proving implacable, Guney handed himself over to police on Thursday. "He had to turn himself in, be booked, arrested, with a mugshot, finger prints," says Hoskins.

Hoskins worked overtime to get her client a hearing where he was finally was given a $5,000 personal recognizance bond that allowed him to go home. He ended up spending 10 hours in jail.

Hoskins argues that the charges brought against Guney are totally inappropriate. "Criminal mischief requires criminal intent. You have to knowingly damage property," she says. Hoskins also says that Guney is willing to cover the costs of removing the markings he made, but that the $10,000 in damages is a wild overestimate.

The Parks Department did not return Reason's request for comment. In a statement to The Washington Post, a department spokesperson said "defacing or damaging public property is unacceptable, a criminal offense, and will not be tolerated in any of our public buildings or spaces."

No charges have been filed against Guney. Hoskins says the Denver District Attorney's Office should make a decision on whether to pursue charges against Guney either today or tomorrow.

NEXT: Will Smith Reminds Us Why Words Should Not Be Equivalent to Violence

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  1. He should just tell everyone he is a woman now.
    That's even better than having a "D" after your name these days.

    1. Use the marker to make himself a black woman.

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  2. Something something something Ron Swanson.

    Nice to see a real life version of “fun” govt in action, vs the tv version that gets so much undeserved praise.

    1. Ron Swanson would not arrest this man. Ron Swanson would take him out to Mulligan's Steak House to discuss why Pickleball is not a real game. But Ron Swanson would not arrest this man.

      Denver needs to be more like Pawnee.

      When only tyrants want to be in city government, then only tyrants will be in city government. We have only ourselves to blame for not running these people out on a rail when we had the chance.

      1. Pickleball is a West Coast version of a Long Island (by which I mean to include Brooklyn and Queens) game, paddle tennis, long popular with old people. Where paddle tennis uses a punctured tennis ball, pickleball uses a symmetric Wiffle ball, and the pickleball court is slightly smaller in one dimension.

  3. To the "department spokesman" -
    Being an asshole by abusing the elderly, who is your customer and reason for having a job there at all, is a moral offense against the entire community, and you are banned from the community for life. If we ever see you again, it is tar and feathers time.
    You have 24 hours to get out of town.

    (preferably, we could just close Denver)

    1. Government employees have seen their jobs evolve to one where they own the public properties and let the great unwashed - taxpayers - use it if they are compliant. He didn't just deface something owned by the employees, but acted as if he had some sort of right, which he clearly does not.
      We work for them, not the other way around.

  4. All he has to do for this to go away is to explain that he was carrying a Black Lives Matter sign at the time.

  5. Old people begin their day at a physiological equivalent of a .08 BAC. Then they take a smorgasborg of pharmaceuticals. Then they drive to the park.

    They should not be allowed in public without adult supervision.

    1. I'm old but it still takes a few breakfast beers to get to .08. Who are these lucky bastards that wake up that way? Save me a lot of cash if I knew their secret.

      1. Ask sarc.

      2. Actually, the key is to go to bed with a .28 bac, so not a lot of savings unless you make your own shine.

    2. Who are you calling old, dipshit?

      I'm betting you work for Parks and Recreation.

    3. This is the funniest shit Ive heard in a week. It’s always fun to mock the elderly.

    4. You are a despicable jerk-off! One day your sorry, worthless butt is going to be elderly. I hope you meet up with someone a trillion times as intolerant toward the elderly as yourself and you suffer the very thing you currently wish on older Americans. After all, they're the ones who have worked their collective rear ends off to build this country. All you young, self-entitled worthless jackasses have perverted it into what it is today and haven't lifted a finger to earn crap.

  6. You know what removes sharpie? Rubbing alcohol. That does not cost $10k.

    1. It does when applied by a municipal employee.

      1. That pension fund isn't going to fund itself.

    2. But fixing the finish that might get removed could.

      1. Nonsense. A gym floor costs $2-3 per square foot to refinish. Even at the high end of that estimate, you could refinish a 3,300 sq ft gym for $10,000. (That's a little more than 2/3 of a basketball court).

      2. And a bottle of surfacing will run you $20-$50. Bag of rags $10. Probably would take one fat union guy all of 3 hours to remove and resurface.

        1. Even paying "prevailing wage" it doesn't come out beyond $500.

    3. You just write over it with a removeable marker, then rub them both out.

      No really, that works on white boards, so worth a try at least, unless you are set on federal crime prison time for this chicken shit sort of thing.

      Hope they all got home safely

      1. Don't overlook the alleged detail that it was a recreation department employee who handed him the sharpie. I sure hope that person is charged with conspiracy to commit a felony.

    4. Oatey pipe cleaner will remove marker and doesnt damage plastic. It's used to clean PVC plumbing pipe before fitting. Use the clear stuff not the purple.

  7. yeah but still, fuck pickleball.

    1. More like what the fuck is pickleball? I've already looked it up and don't need an answer.

    2. Tell Mr. Guney that. He will make what Will did to Chris look like a love tap when he tells you keep pickleball out your fucking mouth.

    3. How about someone say the same two words to you and your passion? What is it with self-righteous, hateful jack-offs like you? Who died and made you God?

  8. There is no law (or rule) so petty they won't throw the book at you.

  9. Denver seems to have a thing against old white guys. This gem popped up in my YouTube recomendations this morning:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krnKtxmqEmI

    Denver police arrested a blind geriatric for accidentally tapping them with his cane, threw him to the ground, caused bleeding, and threw him in jail. They eventually dropped the charges, guy sues for violation of civil rights, and the city decided to fight it. He'd have settled for $100k, but the city wasn't interested and it went to a jury, where the city lost. City decides they aren't done and are now appealing the ruling. Ongoing costs are now up over $1,000,000.

    1. I also wonder how Denver handled the vandalism during all the rioting that was going on in the past couple years. Something tells me that they aren't throwing felony charges around like this when Antifa or BLM are involved.

      1. Antifa lmao...the ever present LieBertarian bogey men.

        All you have to do to see how the police handle antifa is look at the assassination of this guy and no charges against the officers despite eye witnesses saying they were shooting before they even got out of the cars: https://www.opb.org/article/2021/09/20/federal-task-force-members-killed-portland-anti-fascist-supporter-will-not-be-charged/

        But what about the libertarian/anarchist accelerationists who were actually shooting cops during the protests? Boogaloos?

        1. That guys shot a dude for no reason and conspired with a bunch of people to do it. It’s all on camera. Then he got fucking shot by the cops because he was 1) on the run, 2) armed with a semi automatic weapon and 3) had declared his intent on fb after declaring he was the killer.

          What a fucking useless pile of excrement. He’s lucky they shot him dead. Fuck you dr antifa cock sucker. Fuck your mom too, she shoulda flushed you when she had the chance.

        2. Not quite big strapper. Guy who was shot was wanted for shooting another person and went on social media bragging about how ganster he was and wouldn't be taken alive. Cops didn't take any chances with that clown. Try again, nutball

  10. Some persons need to be losing their jobs. Start with the mayor and work down the list.

    But now that this story has gone viral and is causing embarrassment at the level of the mayor's office [and possibly the governors] , I expect it will be "handled" so as to just make the story go away. IOW, some flunky at Parks and Recreation is going to get canned.

    1. Everyone in this city government should be so shamed and vilified in the public square that they have to resign from their jobs.

      1. Accidentally flagged this very correct comment and I can’t find how to unflag

        1. You can't, but Reason lets paedophiles and Nazis continue to post here, so don't worry too much.

  11. Along with everything else, I'm guessing there's a woodchipper shortage in Denver.

  12. I'm sorry, but there is clearly some details missing from this story. I'll offer my suspicions: the pickleball mafia has been agitating for a long time at the gym for higher prominence and access to the court, better markings, etc. They've probably been an irritant to the staff and other gym users. They've probably been told to stop making marks on the floor by the administrators on several occasions. The pickleballers went to their strong-willed, beer-swilling, pickle-chomping Champion Mr. Guney and asked him to "do something". He promptly went to the gym and asked the 15yo volunteer employee folding clean towels if he could make a few more marks for the pickleballers and "don't worry I already cleared with the admin". 15yo Employee says "uhhh. I guess so then." Admin comes back and says "WTF THOSE MFING PICKLEBALL MAFIOSAS DID IT AGAIN!!!"

    1. Cool story bro

    2. So let's just assume facts not in evidence about you and say you are a career hater who just loves to run his dick sucker just for the sake of hearing your gums flap in the wind. Let's assume you just trash people because you are a worthless piece of human trash with no life to speak of; no accomplishments, nothing of any lasting value to add to our society.

  13. There's got to be more behind this story. Something personal or political.

    1. It seems in this society something called PROPORTIONALITY has been utterly lost. There's no such thing as a MEASURED RESPONSE from the legal system and we have ourselves to blame because we put these kinds of worthless, heartless, self-righteous, judgmental jackasses in office time and time and time again and then have the gall to wonder why we then find ourselves abused by them!!!

      1. Perhaps the pickleballers were refusing to wear masks

  14. He used a Sharpie.
    Trump used a Sharpie.
    Clearly he’s a Nazi.

  15. https://denver.cbslocal.com/2021/10/16/denver-parks-recreation-city-council-mayor-michael-hancock/

    Interesting… it appears this Parks and Rec dude has been crooked all along. I hope he loses his massive raise that he stole from the taxpayer.

  16. I use baking soda and a little elbow grease to remove permanent marker from most surfaces. Also going over it with a dry erase marker helps, and the above mentioned rubbing alcohol could work even better than my method.

    There's a point where someone is just being a dick about it and right now it looks more like the person in Parks and Rec. Especially when he's offered to pay to fix it and just happens to disagree with the $10k price tag. Get estimates. I would find it highly amusing if someone came out with a much lower tag to fix it and embarrassed whomever it is in the Parks and Rec that decided all this was worth the effort.

  17. ACAB

    1. We'll just ignore the parks department and the prosecutor because we're all friends here.

  18. I hope the judge has the guts to fine the city for filing frivolous charges.
    What a ridiculous waste of taxpayers' money.

  19. Someone needs to fire everyone involved in this. What a colossal waste of time and taxpayers’ money.

  20. *sigh* How idiotic. You can remove permanent marker from a floor in about five seconds with rubbing alcohol and a rag.

  21. Lets be a bit more clear. The Parks Department is not an actor. It is made up of people who are actors. You should be naming the person or persons who are actually pressing charges and not let them hide behind a name “ the parks department” which has zero ability to act independently. Someone with a perceived self interest, rational or irrational, is pressing this.

    1. Amen! some little pencil pushing geek on a power trip. Maybe the kid who always got bullied in school with a tad bit of authority now. I also wouldn't be surprised if it was some idiot woman who thinks she has to wear her authority on her sleeve just to prove she can do the job as good as or better than any man.

  22. Hoskins worked overtime to get her client a hearing where he was finally was given a $5,000 personal recognizance bond that allowed him to go home. He ended up spending 10 hours in jail.

    Thank god there was no "bail reform" in place. They probably would have detained him under the binary process of release/no release based on the fact that's a covid death risk and might not make his court date.

  23. "defacing or damaging public property is unacceptable, a criminal offense, and will not be tolerated in any of our public buildings or spaces."

    He should have burned the place down while waving a Black Lives Matter flag.

    1. Yeah, claim he's a liberal Democrat just "peacefully protesting" the improper pickle ball court markings!

  24. And here's the fix for it that doesn't involve putting gramps in the state penitentiary for years
    https://kdvr.com/news/problem-solvers/what-does-it-take-to-clean-up-permanent-marker/

  25. If the floor is sealed, a paper towel and rubbing alcohol will remove Sharpie ink. Are these people that stupid or just vindictive?

    1. Embrace the awesome power of "and".

      1. This comment has made my evening. Thank you!

    2. I wondered that myself. Isn't the floor sealed or waxed? Wooden gym floor are refinished on a regular maintenance schedule

  26. He should have put on a BLM shirt, burned down the building then demanded the new one be built with pickleball markings on the floor in the name of equity

  27. If the mayor of Denver has even a half of a brain, the decision makers in the Parks dept, the Legal dept and maybe the Police dept lose their jobs. Charges dismissed posthaste with an apology for the mindless dipshittery required to do something so asinine to a law-abiding senior.

    Typical effing government.

  28. The Denver government employees may have violated federal criminal statute Title 18 US Code 245 and the 8th Amendment (codified into law under 18 USC 245). Prosecutors from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice should investigate these Denver officials for abusing their authority “under color of law”.

    Politically this type of behavior by taxpayer funded bureaucrats (sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution) is precisely why many voters supported Trump cutting or abolishing entire government agencies. Democrats need to recognize how evil some government bureaucracies behave toward their employers - American taxpayers and voters! Democrats should be wanting to shrink and reduce funding for bad bureaucracies like this one.

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