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Charges Filed Over Tree-Killing Tropicana Supergraphic*

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Even after city officials held a press conference Wednesday in front of a supergraphic at 10801 National Boulevard, the building's owner didn't adhere to last night's midnight deadline to remove the sign, prompting City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo to file multiple criminal charges against sign company World Wide Rush, building owner National Investment Company, and eight individuals. As of 4pm today, the sign was still up, according to a spokesperson for Delgadillo. And how about this: According to a press release from Delgadillo's office, the city is "also investigating the illegal chopping down of several trees located on state property in front of the illegal Tropicana Juice sign." Were the trees removed to allow workers to put up the sign, which is located right off the 10 freeway? Worse than that. "We think the trees were removed to clear a line of sight to the sign," the spokesperson tells us. Reading that Thursday LA Times story on the graphic, it seemed like there was a chance the sign might come down. "A lawyer for the company said the supergraphic would be come down Friday, but only because it was scheduled to come down that day. Attorney Joe Agapay said National Investment had not received an order to remove a second supergraphic on the building." **UPDATED


LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, the city’s chief prosecutor, today announced his office has filed multiple criminal charges against the owner of a supergraphic sign company and the owner of the West Los Angeles building to which the sign has been affixed for illegally erecting the six-story advertisement following passage of a city moratorium on such signs and for failing to comply with orders for removal from investigating city agencies.

“The owners of the sign behind us, and the building to which it is affixed, have been directed by the Fire Department and Department of Building and Safety to take down this sign immediately or face criminal prosecution,” said City Attorney Delgadillo. ”They have failed to comply; and have left us with no choice but to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. That is exactly what we are doing today.”

Sign company World Wide Rush, building owner National Investment Company, as well as eight individuals named as registrants doing business under the company name or listed on the deed as partial owners of the building were today charged with 23 criminal counts including installing a sign support structure without a Building Permit; 16 counts of maintaining a 50' by 140' sign without a Building Permit; obstructing
openings in the exterior wall of an occupied high-rise building in such a manner as to cause a hazardous condition in the event of a fire or other emergency; placing an advertising display within 660 feet of the edge of the right-of-way of a freeway without a written permit from the Director of the California Department of Transportation; placing an advertising display adjacent to the landscaped section of a freeway; and maintaining a public nuisance in violation of the California Outdoor
Advertising Act.

If convicted, the company and named defendants could face up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines and penalties for each charge. Arraignment is scheduled for February 26 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

"The City's penalties against super graphics have been too weak to be effective, so it's time to throw the book at them and send a strong message to deter others," said Councilmember Jack Weiss who represents the area where the supergraphic is located.

The case against Worldwide Rush and National Investment began on
December 27, 2008 when investigators from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety observed bolts and cables being installed as part of alarge vinyl advertisement sign along the side of a six-story building located at 10801 National Boulevard in West Los Angeles. Orders to Comply were issued by the Department of Building and Safety and the Los Angeles Fire Department requesting compliance by January 29.

Results of the investigation and notice of failure to comply were forwarded to the City Attorney’s Criminal and Special Litigation branch for joint filing by the Branch Operations Division and Safe Neighborhoods Division.

The California Department of Transportation also provided critical assistance to the City Attorney’s Office in the prosecution of violations of the Outdoor Advertising Act. The California Department of Transportation plants and maintains the landscapes that adjoin our Los Angeles freeways and classifies certain freeways as landscaped freeways. In this case, they are also investigating the illegal chopping down of several trees located on state property in front of the illegal Tropicana Juice sign. Anyone who witnessed this atrocity should contact the California Department of Transportation or this Office.