Felony charge dropped against Ocean Beach man for trimming trees

Vince Adame faced thousands in fines, jail time

SAN DIEGO - A longtime Ocean Beach resident charged with felony vandalism after trimming trees on city owned property learned the charge against him has been dropped.

Vince Adame said he has been trimming the trees in front of a property on Niagara Avenue for more than a decade.

"Generally, that canopy would grow up to the fence like the other one is and people would hide under there at night and they would drink. You could hear them at night, partying out," Adame said.

A few months ago, a neighbor brought a complaint to San Diego police regarding someone cutting down the trees. Police investigated and learned Adame was responsible.

A representative with the San Diego County District Attorney's Office told 10News "the initial charging decision in this case was based on police reports showing more than $3,000 in damage to city property."

Vandalism causing more than $400 in damage is considered a felony, according to state law.

Adame said he trimmed the trees to maintain cleanliness in his Ocean Beach neighborhood. A felony conviction could have meant thousands of dollars in fines and jail time.

He said he believes he was targeted by SDPD detectives, in part, because of complaints he has made to the city regarding a trailer on a nearby parking lot by the beach.

Adame's attorney, Frank Gormlie, could not believe the case went as far as it did.

"They knew well, the DA's office, this was selective enforcement. How can you charge Mr. Adame with vandalism when other neighbors go around and clip and trim city property owned hedges and bushes?" said Gormlie.

An arborist inspected the trees and determined the trees would grow again. The arborist could not definitely determine the exact cost of damage.

The charge was dropped, and Adame said months of headaches were over.

"I was just totally relieved. It's a big weight off my shoulders," Adame said.

He said he will continue to trim the trees in order to keep his neighborhood clean.

"I've never been in trouble before and it put a lot of stress on our family and my kids and my wife," Adame said.

Last year, the district attorney's office filed roughly 1,200 vandalism cases -- about half of those were felonies.

SDPD Lt. Kevin Mayer told 10News the department investigates all complaints and, and he said Adame was not targeted by detectives.

Print this article Back to Top