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Complaint dismissed against landscaper in Brookline

Brookline decided it had a problem with noisy leaf blowers a couple of years ago, so the town passed a ban on the gas-powered machines that have been known to disturb a suburbanite or two on a quiet morning.

On Saturday, police captured an offender, a landscaper who had allegedly used a gas-powered leaf blower before 9 a.m. in violation of the local laws. When he compounded the problem by refusing to identify himself, he was placed under arrest.

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But by early this week, the case against Marvin Astillo, 40, of Waltham, began to fall apart.

Brookline District Court Judge Mary Dacey White dismissed the complaint against Astillo Monday, before he was to be arraigned, said David Traub, spokesman for the Norfolk district attorney’s office.

Traub said it is the district attorney office’s understanding that the complaint was dismissed because only criminal violations are supposed to go through the arraignment process; the leaf blowing incident led to civil infractions.

As a result of the dismissal, Brookline Police Chief Daniel O’Leary said Tuesday that he does not think Astillo will have to pay fines in the alleged leaf blower violations, either.

O’Leary said Tuesday that if Astillo had cooperated with police from the start, he would never have been arrested.

Brookline police arrested Astillo Saturday after police said they spotted him and another man using gasoline-powered leaf blowers in a parking lot at 850 Boylston St. before 9 a.m. Three other men were also doing landscaping work on the property.

Police signaled for the men to stop working and informed them that under the local bylaw governing leaf blower use in Brookline they are not allowed to use the gasoline-powered tools between May 15 and Sept. 15. They also are not allowed to perform landscaping work before 9 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Police informed the men that Saturday was Yom Kippur.

The latest version of the town’s leaf blower laws took effect in June 2012, and violations carry fines ranging from $50 for a first offense to $200 for a third offense. O’Leary said police have worked to notify all landscapers in the town about the local bylaws.

But when police asked Astillo to identify himself Saturday, he asked why he needed to provide identification. Police again informed him that he was violating the town’s bylaws and he needed to provide identification so he could be issued a citation for the violation, police said. Police said Astillo again refused to identify himself, and when police asked a third time he began to walk away and was shaking his head.

He was then arrested on a charge of refusing to submit his name and identification to police and for two violations of town bylaws.

The second man who had been operating a leaf blower, whose name has not been released, said he was the foreman and identified himself to police. He was cited for operating a gasoline-powered leaf blower between May 15 and Sept. 15 and performing landscaping with equipment prior to 9 a.m. on a Saturday.

Including the citations issued Saturday, O’Leary said police have issued three tickets for leaf blower violations from August until now. “Our goal is not to arrest people,” O’Leary said. “Our goal is to get compliance.”

Brock Parker can be reached at brock.globe@gmail.com.
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