A La Mesa business owner was sentenced Wednesday to a two-year probation term and time served stemming from a scuffle with members of the local media in front of his clothing store.
Peter Carzis, 77, pleaded guilty in February to felony vandalism in connection with the January 2020 encounter with reporters who attempted to interview him outside his business, Peter’s Men’s Apparel located at 8239 La Mesa Boulevard, regarding an alleged recording of him fondling a woman outside the store and reports that Carzis had sexually harassed female shoppers.
In addition to the two years of probation, a judged tacked on 13 days of custody, which Carzis was credited for time served.
News crews gathered at Peter's Men's Apparel on La Mesa Boulevard to try to get a response from the defendant regarding the recorded incident, which was posted on the La Mesa Happenings Facebook page.
Video shot by local news outlets showed him cursing at reporters, shoving a cameraman and slapping a phone out of a reporter's hand before walking back into his store.
No injuries were reported, but Carzis caused "irreparable damage" to the videographer's camera, valued at about $7,000, according to La Mesa police.
Carzis may still be required to pay for the camera, though the restitution issue was not addressed at Wednesday's sentencing hearing.
Carzis was in frequent contact with police during the past several years prior to the incident.
Police were called to Peter’s Men’s Apparel -- which has now since closed -- a total of 22 times since 2015, according to public records obtained by NBC 7 Investigates.
While La Mesa police listed several of the calls as landlord and tenant disputes, others were much more serious.
In October 2017, police records showed a shopper called 911 after she said Carzis allegedly “exposed himself inside the store.” The person later declined to press charges and no arrest was made.
The following October, a customer called 911 with accusations that Carzis threatened him during a business dispute.
Calls to police continued in 2019 when police received several reports of “annoying and harassing” conduct at 8239 La Mesa Boulevard.
La Mesa police were called out to Peter’s Men’s Apparel in August 2019 after a female customer said Carzis approached her inside the store and told her that “she needed to lose weight and touched her arms and stomach,” making her feel “uncomfortable.”
No report was filed, according to LMPD.
Then came the string of calls which led to the altercation with members of the press.
The first call was made in the afternoon on Jan. 18, 2020, when a husband and wife claimed Carzis was staring at them, or in their words, “mean mugging” them as they walked down the sidewalk. Carzis, according to the police reports, spat on the man’s leg. When confronted, Carzis allegedly tried to fight the man. The man later told police that Carzis appeared “intoxicated.”
Less than an hour later, the mother of a juvenile called to report a lewd act in public that her son recorded on his cell phone in front of the store. The video and accompanying police record showed Carzis “groping” a woman’s breasts as he sat down in a chair in front of his store. Carzis then lifted the woman’s shirt and engaged in additional sex acts.
In response to the report, news crews showed up outside of Peter’s Men’s Apparel in an attempt to interview Carzis. That was when the altercation with reporters occured.
At least one neighboring business owner was happy Carzis was gone.
“He would sit in his chair and harass everyone so they would stop walking over there,” shop owner Theresa Favro said in January 2020.