Several teens accused of breaking into the Medley Centre were arraigned Monday morning in Irondequoit Town Court.
Police responded to the empty mall around 8:30 p.m. Sunday after an observant neighbor called 911. Officers said they found nine teenagers had broken into the empty mall and caused more than $2,800 worth of damage.
Eight of those teens spent the night in jail and Monday morning, faced both an Irondequoit Town Court judge and their angry parents.
• Nicholas Lane, 19
• Artar Gornick, 18
• Nico Piacentini, 17
• Jeffrey Palermo, 17
• Cesar Surillo, 17
• Jessica Fontan, 17
• Michael Oberer, 17
• Shanley Austin, 16
And one juvenile were all charged with burglary and criminal mischief. The juvenile's case will be handled in Family Court.
Police say the teens busted in through a fire door and set off fire extinguishers inside.
We know that particular building is not used every day,” said Irondequoit Police Chief Richard Tantalo. “There is no lighting and safety precautions in place and it could be a very easy situation for someone to get injured."
Medley Centre developer Scott Congel was fined earlier this year for code violations at the nearly empty mall. Inspectors found major water damage inside the building, combustible debris and a dysfunctional fire alarm sprinkler system; all of which, they said, posed serious safety concerns and have since been corrected.
In a statement, Congel said there have been a series of break-ins in the mall, and that:
"We have experienced cut locks, water being turned on that was previously turned off, used condoms in the play area, and other obvious disturbances to the property."
Congel hopes increased police surveillance will help. He also said he wants to resolve their lawsuits and complete the billion dollar development project.
“It's a vacant building, a vacant property and I think any time you have those types of situations, it's a public safety concern for all types of first responders. We know that due to the size of the structure, that that's an issue we have to contend with,” Tantalo said.
Several parents we spoke to off camera called their children's actions silly, stupid and disappointing. Judge Joseph Genier Monday told the teens, "This isn't a game. These are really serious charges."
For most, this was a first offense, so they were released on their own recognizance, even though some parents had asked the judge to keep their teens and teach them a lesson.
Genier told them the teens will learn going through the next court dates and said, "This is a big deal, but don't make it a life deal."
The teens are due back in court next week.
“Hopefully this will serve as a lesson for other individuals. That even though it is a vacant property, it is a public safety issue. It is owned by somebody. It is private property. They should not be there unless they're there for a legitimate purpose,” Tantalo said.