PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- Charges have been dropped against a Pinellas Park business owner who was arrested for staying open during the lockdown.
- Galen Wood, owner of Kitchen Table Games, arrested for staying open
- The charges against Wood have now been dropped
- Wood said he didn't do anything wrong by offering curbside service
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office arrested Galen Wood, the owner of Kitchen Table Games, on April 16.
"It was stressful," Wood said in an interview. "We were told repeatedly that they were not going to take a plea deal. That they were going to punish me to the fullest extent of the law."
He was charged with failing to comply with the county’s safer at home order. Deputies had also warned him.
He feels he was doing nothing wrong by offering curbside service. He hired an attorney and the charges were dropped on Thursday.
With the charges dropped, it has raised questions for other business owners in the Bay Area as to what their legal consequences could be when they decide to reopen.
For instance, the owner of Amped Fitness in Pinellas County claims he's opening up his locations this week, despite the Governor's order to keep them closed.
Our legal analyst Kevin Hayslett says local sheriffs have the authority to arrest business owners – and even their customers – if that business is supposed to be closed by state order.
However, he feels that should be a last resort.
"There’s not an agency that I’ve spoken to that wants to make arrests. However, if after they’ve warned, educated, and given notice to the owner, ultimately they’ll make an arrest," Hayseltt said.
If there is an arrest, he also says those charges may not stick, but that also would depend on the situation.
As for Wood, he hopes that his example may help other business owners in a similar situation.
"I feel vindicated. A lot of business owners have contacted me and said this is a victory for all of us. "
Wood says he is planning on suing PCSO over what he feels was a wrongful arrest. The sheriff's office did not answer requests for comment.