CINCINNATI — A 63-year-old grandmother of 10 was convicted of obstructing official business Thursday for what she considered a random act of kindness: plunking a dime and a nickel into two overdue parking meters so the cars parked there wouldn't be ticketed.
"I tried to do what I thought was the right thing," Sylvia Stayton said as she left court. She faces up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine when she is sentenced later this month. Jurors acquitted her of misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
"She was doing a good deed," her lawyer, David Scacchetti, told the Municipal Court jury in closing arguments. "Sylvia Stayton should be congratulated for her act, not punished." He said he would consult with Stayton about an appeal.
Officer Ed Johnson had testified Wednesday that he was about to write two tickets Oct. 24 when Stayton put coins into the meters. He said he had warned the woman that she was breaking an obscure ordinance.
Johnson said she became loud and difficult and refused to identify herself after being arrested.
Stayton took the stand and disputed the officer's testimony, saying she didn't mean to stop Johnson from writing the tickets and was "floored" when Johnson grabbed her arm and put handcuffs on her.
Her brief stay behind bars turned Stayton into something of a folk hero. She received $350 from people donating to her "legal abuse fund." And a church group that has been anonymously feeding parking meters for years printed up T-shirts that read: "Sylvia Stayton . . . guilty of kindness."