By LEVI PASCHER
Fulton County Express
GLOVERSVILLE – The ice cream truck operator who garnered national attention in 2013 for allegedly harassing and stalking competitors in the frozen treat business has been cleared of all charges, according to a release from the Fulton County District Attorney’s office.
Joshua Malatino was found not guilty on his previous charges of fourth-degree stalking and second-degree harassment by acting City Court Judge Howard Aison.
According to the release, Judge Aison issued a written decision on Monday which determined Malatino saying “free ice cream” was protected free speech and the two contacts between rival ice cream truck operator Phillip Hollister and Malatino were “accidental and unexpected” as opposed to being “for no legitimate purpose” and “with a course of conduct” as required by the charges.
The case was decided through a bench trial after the Malatino waived his right to a jury trial. The prosecution was led by Fulton County Assistant District Attorney James Riley and Malatino was represented by Attorney Michael Sutton.
Malatino said on Tuesday evening he is happy to see the case was decided in his favor. However, going forward he said he will be looking to restore his name and reputation, which took a serious blow after the incident gathered the attention of media outlets across the nation.
“I want to personally thank everyone that has supported me over the last two years,” Malatino said. “I want people to understand that just because you are charged with a crime, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are guilty. My name was run through the mud and I was humiliated nation wide.”
The case originally stemmed from two incidents that occurred between April 16-28, 2013.
It was alleged that Malatino followed the Mr. Ding-a-ling ice cream truck, owned by Hollister and yelled, “You don’t have a chance, this is my town!”
In addition, it was alleged that on a separate occasion, he pulled up behind Hollister’s ice cream truck and stated that he had free ice cream for Hollister’s customers.
According to the district attorney’s office, these alleged incidents occurred after Malatino was advised by Gloversville Police Chief Donald VanDeusen to cease all conduct against other ice cream vendors.
“In making the arrest, the Gloversville Police Department acted in the best interest of public safety at the time,” the release said.
Riley said Malatino’s previous business partner Amanda Scott also faced the same charges but she previously pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct which resulted in a fine.
After the arrest, the city denied the renewal of Scott’s permit and she then took the city to court. In June 2013, state Supreme Court Justice Joseph M. Sise allowed the city to deny the business owner a permit.
According to the release, the Gloversville Police Department has had no further incidents with any other ice cream vendors to date.
Malatino said he hasn’t made any decision on whether he will look to operate an ice cream business at a later date in the city.
“That isn’t something I’m even thinking about at this point,” Malatino said. “I’m mostly concerned with letting people know that I did nothing wrong. I want to clear my name for the sake of my daughter and family.”