Tim Weatherwax/One Shot Photography
A local skateboarder flies off a ramp during a demonstration held in conjunction with the 'Sham Rock the Block' event held on St. Patrick's Day weekend in Lake George. More than a dozen teenagers have been working for years to establish a skate park where they can hone their skills. The day after this shot was taken, two local skateboarders practiced their sport behind the Village Mall using a weathered picnic table as a ramp — an action that sparked a court fight that ended up on the Judge Judy Show. The segment is to air at 4 p.m. Tuesday Sept. 11.
A legal dispute which pitted two local skateboarders against a Lake George business owner was featured in a Tuesday Sept. 11 episode of the Judge Judy show.
Frankie Cavone of Lake George, a skateboarder who has been working for years to establish a local skateboard park, appeared in a Judge Judy showdown in which Gerald Bongiorno, owner of the Hawaiian Shaved Ice kiosk in the Village Mall, sought nearly $3,000 in compensation from Cavone and his skateboarding friend Chris Brauser of Warrensburg for alleged vandalism.
A gathering to watch the skateboard lawsuit episode occurred at Tuesday afternoon at the East Cove Restaurant. Hors d’ouvres were available for $5, and the proceeds were donated to skateboard park development.
Cavone said the legal saga began March 18, when he and Brauser were skateboarding at the lakeside entrance to the mall, and saw what appeared to be an abandoned, weathered picnic table, and they decided to place it against the mall’s steps to use it as a skate ramp. Cavone videotaped the aerial skate stunts for a graphics project and posted it on YouTube. A Lake George High School graduate, Cavone is a student at Hudson Valley Community College, concentrating in video production and broadcasting.
The table belonged Bongiorno's business. Bongiorno sued in Lake George Town Court for several hundred dollars in damages to the picnic table, Cavone said.
Cavone and his mother, Tina Cacckello, said Bongiorno contacted the Judge Judy Show producers, and they decided to take on the case, transferring it from town court.
Cavone, Cacckello, Brauser and Bongiorno were flown out to Los Angeles for the filming of the show — at the television production company’s expense.
Cavone said that during the taping of the episode, he mentioned his work to establish the Lake George Skateboard Park, now nearing construction in the Charles Wood Park.
He said that he quipped, “The mayor’s got our back,” referring to Lake George Mayor Robert Blais advocating the skate park. Such a comment may have backfired, he mused Sept. 2.
Judge Judy reacted with characteristic intensity, admonishing the two skateboarders, and awarding Bongiorno $2,795 for a new picnic table, and to compensate him for vandalism that Cavone and Cacckello said wasn’t at all related to the incident. They said that his original claim of several hundred dollars in town court got inflated to $2,795 for television.
Bongiorno declined to comment when called this week regarding the case.
Although Judge Judy came down hard on Cavone and Brauser, saying they were responsible for all the damage although they might have only hurt the picnic table.
In a dramatic flourish that would likely not hold up in a real court, Judge Judy said they were responsible because they might know the skaters who caused the other vandalism on the property, and they might as well pay up and collect from the real perpetrators.
On the show, Bongiorno pledged to donate his court award to the Lake George Skateboard Park development fund.
Cacckello said after the show’s airing that she and other local citizens were pleased with Bongiorno’s donation pledge, but she’d contacted members of the skateboard park development committee, and they hadn’t yet seen such a donation materialize.
Cavone said he was nervous during the show’s taping, knowing millions of people would be watching it.
“It was a little nerve-wracking,” he said. “It was hard to think what to say — with a national television camera pointing at you, you’re on the hot seat.”