Herrera Obtains Tough Injunction, Penalties Against One of City’s Most Prolific Graffiti Vandals

Reformed ‘Tagger’ Also Agrees to Complete Public Service Announcement Warning Others of Possible Legal Consequences in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (July 24, 2006)-City Attorney Dennis Herrera today announced that his office has obtained a civil injunction and monetary penalties against one of San Francisco’s most prolific graffiti vandals, settling a first-of-its-kind civil lawsuit against Carlos Romero for at least eight incidents of graffiti vandalism he is known to have committed as an adult. Under terms of the settlement approved by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ronald E. Quidachay, Romero, 20, agreed to a court-ordered injunction barring him from possessing instruments such as spray paint and markers defined as “graffiti tools” under state law; forbidding him from trespassing or being within 100 yards of intersections where he is known to have committed graffiti vandalism; and requiring him to observe a curfew within City limits between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., with limited exceptions. The injunctions will remain in effect for the next 60 months. Romero also stipulated to pay civil penalties, fees and costs to the City and County of San Francisco totaling $20,000, with the City agreeing to waive half that amount as an incentive for payment provided Romero makes regular payments totaling $10,000 within the next 48 months.

An additional provision of the stipulation requires Romero to complete a public service announcement at the direction of the Department of Public Works to warn others of the consequences of committing graffiti vandalism in San Francisco.

“This settlement demonstrates that there is a tough, aggressive role for civil law offices in helping deter conduct that causes injury to taxpayers,” Herrera said. “Would-be vandals who believe they can damage public property and avoid criminal conviction should understand that the law also allows for very serious civil remedies, which can affect their ability to obtain credit, get car loans or buy homes years down the road. Graffiti vandalism imposes substantial direct costs on City taxpayers, and no less significant indirect costs in terms of tourism and quality of life. My office has an important role to play in fighting public nuisances like these, and it’s a role I intend to play very aggressively.”

“I finally want to commend Mr. Romero for taking full responsibility for his actions,” Herrera added. “He deserves credit for committing to right his own wrongdoing, and to warn other would-be ‘taggers’ of the serious legal consequences they can expect for graffiti vandalism in San Francisco.”

The lawsuit filed in Superior Court earlier this month, which was the first action of its kind in San Francisco, alleged that Romero used monikers that included “LAFER,” “COMA,” “QUESO,” “CREAM,” and others to deface public and private property as an adult between June 2004 and as recently as May of this year. Romero is alleged to have committed the bulk of his graffiti vandalism on light poles, street signs, garbage receptacles and other public structures in and around Ocean Avenue and Mission Street.

According to the City’s civil complaint, Romero was arrested and charged with at least six misdemeanor counts involving graffiti vandalism in two separate occasions in 2005. He participated in a City pre-trial diversion program and completed 39 hours of community service as part of his sentence.

The civil case was prosecuted by the City Attorney’s Neighborhood and Resident Safety Division by Deputy City Attorneys Machaela Hoctor, Yvonne Meré and Michael Weiss and Chief of Special Litigation Owen Clements.

The case is City and County of San Francisco and the People of the State of California v. Carlos Romero, San Francisco Superior Court, Case No. CGC 06 453-926, filed July 7, 2006.