A 71-year-old Denver man has reached a settlement with the city after being charged with a felony for drawing pickleball court lines on a gymnasium floor with a permanent marker.
Arslan Guney, known as the “mayor of pickleball,” faced a criminal mischief charge after making changes to the gymnasium floor at the Denver Central Park Recreation Center. The city claimed he caused about $10,000 in damages at taxpayer expense.
Guney agreed to pay about $4,672, or about half the city’s estimated cost to remove the markings, “re-screen” and “coat” the gymnasium floor, according to his attorney, Hollynd Hoskins.
The city, in turn, agreed to drop the charges against Guney and return his revoked membership in the city’s parks and recreation centers.
Guney is “thrilled” to return to the pickleball courts, Hoskins said in a statement to HuffPost.
Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said her office was “pleased” to resolve the pickleball case.
Hoskins said his client was “acting as a generous volunteer” for the Parks and Recreation department and using a black Sharpie marker to renew “pre-existing” markings staff had made to designate pickleball line markers.
Guney had “no intention” of damaging the floor, she said, and he has since apologized to the department.
Previously, Hoskins, herself a pickleball player, said she wouldn’t have represented Guney if he had in fact vandalized the gym.
“You had to walk around that gym to see those marks,” Hoskins said.
Hoskins then got an estimate from a contractor she said worked on NBA gymnasium floors.
The contractor, she said, told her he could remove the floor markings at a “nominal cost,” but would do the job for free if the city said it cost $10. $000.
“It’s clearly what I called a ‘pickleball shakedown,'” Hoskins said.
Hoskins and Guney played pickleball once he regained his membership in city parks and recreation facilities.
The two also created a GoFundMe account with a “mission to turn a negative into a positive” and raise money for gym repairs, she said.
Any money that exceeds the cost of repairs will go to the nonprofit organizations of pickleball pros Simone Jardim and Jay “Gizmo” Hall, according to Hoskins.