QUEENS — A Donald Trump supporter who hired a team to post reward fliers looking for the person who stole campaign signs from his front yard earlier this year has been slapped with a $1,600 fine by the city after the team did more than $40,000 in damage to trees they posted on, officials said.
Michael Ricatto, who owns a house on Abingdon Road in Kew Gardens but is a real estate investor in Florida, told DNAinfo in August that his “Trump 2016” signs were stolen from his NYC home four times in six months.
After the most recent theft, he hired several people who taped and stapled fliers offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect to trees and lampposts in the neighborhood, he said.
But the fliers angered some in the community who said the staples damaged those trees.
The Parks Department, which received multiple complaints about the issue through 311 as well as a local Facebook group, said that its foresters who inspected the neighborhood determined that 11 trees in Kew Gardens had deep staple wounds, amounting to over $40,000 worth of damage, the agency said.
The agency later issued Ricatto 22 summonses for a total of $1,650 — 11 $100 summonses for minor tree damage, and 11 $50 summonses for unlawful posting.
When asked about why he would only be responsible for $1,650, a Parks Department spokeswoman said that the amount of a summons the city issues is based on the rule that’s broken. The cost of damage done does not necessarily correlate to the cost of the summons.
Ricatto did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Wednesday.
But in his email sent to DNAinfo on Sept. 7 he questioned the initial assessment. “Sounds far-fetched to me,” he said.
“There are abundant staples in trees all over the place from all kinds of sources,” he added.