Arslan Guney served as an engineer with Vlasic pickles. After his retirement, Guney became an avid pickler. He is now a 71 year old Denver resident and finds himself in legal pickleball.
Guney, who allegedly misappropriated a city Department of Parks and Recreation facility’s gym floor was charged with felony criminal offenses. Guney could spend up to 3 years prison if he is convicted. Guney has been expelled by the Denver Parks Department and ordered to pay $10,000 for vandalism.
Is this vandalism that is being accused? Guney used a permanent marker for small squares to trace around black “x” marks that were already there. This was to indicate a pickleball court.
He said, “It was an awful misunderstanding. He instantly apologized. “He immediately wanted to get down and solve this problem,” Hollynd Hoskins (the Denver attorney, former public defender) representing Guney, says. “Why will you arrest him and send him to 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.
A multi-use gymnasium floor was available to the center, with lines that could be used for volleyball or basketball. Pickleball was not allowed. Instead, players were provided with yellow markers made of floppy material that could be removed and used to create a temporary court for pickleball.
It was not ideal. It was time-consuming to set up yellow markers and the court wasn’t well marked. The movable markers presented a danger to players’ safety.
In the autumn of 2021, an employee of Parks Department placed black “x” marks across the gym’s floor to make it easier. Yet, many avid gamers were eager to have their own permanent marks.
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.
Guney and Parks Department met earlier this month. They agreed to expand the hours the Central Park gym can be used for pickleball, and also consider permanent markings. Guney was also asked to draw up a plan for where the temporary markings should be placed so that staff can set up the court faster.
Guney also agreed. He surveyed the court after pickleball practice on Monday. Guney realized that some of the ‘xs’ markings on the gym’s floor were wrongly positioned and borrowed a marker to draw black squares.
He doesn’t care about it. Hoskins states that he thinks he does the right things.
This is not the way that the Parks Department considered it. Pickleball was cancelled when people arrived to play on the next day.
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.
It only got worse. He received a phone call on Wednesday from Denver Police Department advising him that the Parks Department had filed criminal charges for felony criminal misconduct and they would issue an arrest warrant.
Guney was shocked and distraught. He tried to get in touch with the Parks Department. He received silence.
At this point, people started contacting Hoskins—an avid pickleball player herself—to see if she could help Guney. Hoskins said she went to the Central Park rec facility to inspect the markings and was not bothered at all. Hoskins was assured by those who used the court for basketball games that they were not bothered.
Hoskins accepted to be Guney’s pro bono representative, assuming there was a big miscommunication. Hoskins immediately tried to set up a meeting at the Parks Department in order to settle everything. However, the Parks Department refused to budge. They stated that Guney should be arrested, and they set out to pursue felony criminal charges against Guney.
Guney was handed over by police to the Parks Department on Thursday after they proved inflexible. Hoskins says that Guney had to surrender, was booked and arrested with finger prints, a mugshot and a warrant.
Hoskins was tireless in obtaining a hearing for her client. He was then granted a personal recognizance bail of $5,000 that enabled him to return home. He spent 10 hours in prison.
Hoskins claims that Guney’s charges are completely inappropriate. “Criminal mischief requires criminal intent. “You must know that property has been damaged,” she states. Hoskins states that Guney would be willing to pay the cost of having the markings removed, but that $10,000 is too high.
The Parks Department has not returned There are reasonsRequest for Comment. In a statement It Washington PostAccording to a spokesperson from the department, “defacing or damaging private property is unacceptable and a criminal offense. We will not tolerate this in any public building or space.”
Guney has not been charged. Hoskins believes that the Denver District Attorney’s Office needs to decide whether Guney should be charged today or tomorrow.