The operator of a Woodland Hills tattoo parlor denied Friday that he was responsible for illegally tattooing a dolphin on the hip of a 17-year-old girl.
Leonardo Martinis, 29, of Westlake Village, who owns and manages the Think Ink tattoo parlor at 21626 Ventura Blvd., acknowledged that he applied the tattoo to the girl in May 1996, but only after she furnished identification indicating that she was not a minor.
Martinis was charged Friday with one misdemeanor count of illegally tattooing a person under 18 years old, said City Atty. Jim Hahn. If he is convicted of the state violation, Martinis faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department launched an investigation into the incident when the girl's father contacted them in late January after discovering the tattoo.
"She said that she paid $40 for the tattoo and that [Martinis] never asked her to show proof that she was over 18," said Deputy City Atty. Martha Gutierrez, who filed the criminal complaint on behalf of the city attorney.
But Martinis disputed that account, insisting instead that the unnamed girl used a false identification card to gain access to the store, which posts a sign in the window warning that no person under 18 is allowed inside.
"She had a fake ID. She showed it to my employee and she signed a release form and lied about her age," Martinis said. "What am I supposed to do?
"I've been tattooing for 10 years and I've never had a problem. My reputation is 100% perfect," he said. "I understand why the parents are upset but they should be mad at their daughter, not at me."
Martinis is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 27 in Van Nuys Municipal Court.
He said he was considering filing a civil suit against the girl's parents to recover damages for harm to his reputation.