‘For Sale by Owner’ sign lands property owners in jail
By Linda Bentley | September 3, 2008
‘You can’t just come on our property and take stuff’
CAVE CREEK – A few weeks ago, Gary and Jeri Rust, who own Spur Cross Gallery and the Tumbleweed Hotel, put up some signs they had made saying “For Sale by Owner” in an effort to sell their property.
Local activist Anna Marsolo said she stopped by shortly after the signs went up and asked the Rusts to please take the signs down, citing they were in violation of the town ordinance.
When the Rusts refused, Marsolo said she told them she was going to town hall to file a complaint, which she did.
Marsolo, who has actively picked up litter in town, considers non-compliant signs “visual litter.”
She said, “I always approach sign violators to their face and nicely ask them to conform to a regular sign.”
According to the Rusts, Deputy Town Marshal Bobby Hernandez called them shortly thereafter and gave them a week to take the signs down. However, they said he showed up at their business on Aug. 21, without any warning and began removing their “For Sale” signs.
Jeri Rust said Hernandez told them, “This is mine now,” as he was cutting down the signs.
Rust said she told Hernandez, “You can’t just come on our property and take stuff.”
She said Hernandez responded, “Oh yes I can.”
Gary Rust said he told Hernandez, “I’ll take it down,” but said Hernandez was laughing at them and continued removing the signs.
Rust said he told Hernandez, “You’re being a prick,” to which Hernandez responded, “Yes I am.”
He then called Hernandez an “overpaid crossing guard” and said he became so angry he was shaking. He told Hernandez, “I need to walk away from this and go inside.”
Although Rust said Hernandez told him to stay right there, he told Hernandez he was going back inside.
The next thing the Rusts knew, four MCSO squad cars pulled up in front and told them, “Bobby called us here to arrest you.”
According to the Rusts, they’d not been issued a citation or anything in writing by the town.
The Rusts said they were placed in handcuffs and taken down to the MCSO Cave Creek Satellite Station until they could be transported downtown.
Jeri Rust began crying when she told Sonoran News about the deputies refusing to let her call home to let their kids, 10 and 13, know what was going on. She said she was so upset one of the deputies finally relented and let her make the call.
Deputies at the station apparently didn’t realize Jeri Rust was placed in one of the interview rooms and could overhear everything they were saying.
She said she heard one of the deputies ask, “If Bobby is a police officer, why isn’t he arresting them?” and questioned why MCSO was being called to arrest them.
Then she heard one of them say, “Go find Hernandez.”
Rust said when Hernandez arrived, the sergeant told him, “This is yours,” and the deputies were instructed to remove MCSO’s handcuffs and replace them with Hernandez’s.
The Rusts were taken downtown and booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail, charged with four misdemeanor counts each for assault – causing fear of physical injury, obstruction of government operations by a public servant, obstruction of government operations by a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct – noise.
When they made their appearance in court to have their bond set, Gary Rust said the bailiff became curious and asked him what the sign said.
When Rust responded, “For sale by owner,” he said the bailiff blurted out, “Oh my God!” expecting Rust to say it was some sort of campaign sign.
They were both released at 5:30 a.m. the following day on $2,000 bond posted by a family member.
The Rusts plan to fight the charges in court and said they are in disbelief Hernandez took a sign issue to such an extreme.
Sonoran News was unable to connect with Hernandez after making numerous attempts to contact him both in person at town hall and by phone.
Courtesy photo/Anna Marsolo