Ronald Grottanelli

Ronald Grottanelli last summer watched as golf carts acquired for a music festival at his Springville campgrounds were ordered returned to the vendor by the state, which moved to shut down the festival because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The New York campground operator who defied a court order and allowed a summer music festival to go on in Springville has been ordered to pay $32,255 to settle his civil contempt charges, according to The Buffalo News.

Ronald Grottanelli must pay $3,000 to New York State immediately.

Then Grottanelli must pay $300 to the state each month until he has paid the remaining amount in full, according to a consent order and judgment signed Tuesday (Dec. 15) by State Supreme Court Justice Paul B. Wojtaszek.

“The coronavirus restrictions were put into place to stop the spread,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a written statement. “To be defiant against these regulations while thousands of people died of the virus daily was irresponsible and shameful. We applaud the resolution of this case as we head into the second wave of the pandemic. Our hope is that New Yorkers continue to act responsibly to not only protect themselves but also their other fellow New Yorkers.”

Neither Grottanelli or his lawyer, Maximillian Tresmond, could immediately be reached for comment.

The order comes a month after Grottanelli apologized to Wojtaszek, who handled the contempt case, and to Justice Dennis E. Ward, who last summer signed the temporary restraining order forbidding the Jamboree in the Woods festival.

Grottanelli asked Wojtaszek to consider his lack of a legal background and other mitigating circumstances when assessing the penalties for violating the order.

“I am a widowed senior citizen, and I request that the court adjust any assessed penalty … in accordance with my age, economic condition and other mitigating circumstances,” wrote Grottanelli, 71, in an Oct. 30 affidavit.

Under the consent order, Grottanelli must pay $27,255 to the state as a fine for his civil contempt to reimburse the state for enforcing Ward’s order. He must also pay the state $3,000 in penalties and $2,000 for costs.

The order requires him to refund Eventbrite, the ticketing vendor, so it can make full refunds to those who purchased tickets to the festival.

If Grottanelli fails to make timely payments, he will be barred from conducting any commercial activity at the campgrounds at 11847 Summit Lane, Springville, including music festivals and camping, until he pays off what he owes.

Only minutes after Ward signed the restraining order after a July 30 hearing, Grottanelli said the order would not stop him from sponsoring the Jamboree in the Woods festival at the Hogarosa Campgrounds.

“I’m an American,” he told The Buffalo News. “I can read the Constitution. I have rights. The First Amendment affords us the ability to gather peacefully.”

At the time of Ward’s order, the state Department of Health had already sent Grottanelli a cease-and-desist order because of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s executive order against nonessential gatherings of more than 50 people. Public health officials sought to stop the music festival because they say large gatherings present the greatest risk for rapid and widespread transmission of the COVID-19 virus in the community.

The legal action against Grottanelli is believed to be the first time the state Attorney General’s Office cited the state’s public health law to stop a large gathering during the COVID-19 pandemic, Assistant Attorney General Christopher L. Boyd said last summer.

To read more, click here.