Photo: Stock Image
The case of 31-year-old Leonardo Morales, arrested by Ventura County Sheriff’s Department deputies attached to the City of Fillmore Patrol Services Division on a charge of felony vandalism makes one pause to consider what crimes of public art his 16th Century High Renaissance namesake might have been charged with had he vented his creative instincts on the walls of Milan, Italy.
The difference for this contemporary Leonardo, of course, is that there are significant legislative proscriptions classified today as felonies for any unfettered artistic expression impacting the private property rights of others. According to Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Det. Sgt. Hollowell, spray painting either public or private property—defined as graffiti—“is an eyesore that directly affects the quality of life in our communities” which has serious negative impact upon property values.
The most recent artwork of Leonardo Morales came to light on the night of January 7 th , when the VCSD Communications Center was alerted to “an in-progress vandalism crime” at a Fillmore business establishment.
Patrol deputies promptly responded to the reported scene and made contact with Morales, quickly determining his probation status for similar prior crimes. A search of his person led to the discover of “spray paint cans” in his possession, the colors of which matched the graffiti at the reporting location.
Morales was taken into custody and transported to Ventura County Jail, where he was booked on a charge of felony vandalism, with his bail set at $20,000.