Monterey Wharf Pager Caper

Friday, Mar 20, 2009  |  Updated 9:45 AM PDT
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Monterey Wharf Pager Caper

AP

Otter to self: Why is this pager being thrown at me?

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This is a pager caper case that either shows signs of the weakening economy or deep-seated hatred between rivals.

A Fisherman's Wharf restaurant is accused of stealing a competitor's pagers and throwing them into Monterey Bay.

Seriously.

The owner of the Old Fisherman's Grotto, Chris Shake, said Sam Mercurio, who owns the nearby Domenico's on the Wharf, stole pagers from people waiting for a table at his restaurant and then threw them into the water to get customers to eat at his restaurant.

We know things are bad, but do restaurant owners really have to stoop to these kind of tactics?

It's not like Mercurio is accused of taking the pagers right of the hands of the patrons.  It was sneakier than that.

"One of my guests was waiting for a table, (he would) then escort them into his restaurant and would go to the back door where the kitchen was for a brief moment -- 10 or 15 seconds -- then come back out." Shake said. "That is when I thought maybe he was dumping them."

Shake hired a diver who found 10 pagers at the bottom of Monterey Bay belonging to his restaurant.

The case is now in court.  A motion to remove evidence in the case was struck down this week.

Judge Tom Wills struck down a claim the search for the pagers was illegal because it was done without a warrant.

Wills, however, said Mercurio signed a lease giving the city rights to inspect the restaurant's premises at all times and that he agreed to respect the rights of other tenants and not throw anything into the bay.

"I can't really argue with his decision, he listened to all of evidence. I respect his decision," defense attorney Richard Rosen said.

Mercurio is charged with one count of petty theft in connection with the disappearance of the pagers.

A pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for April 9.

This one should be fun to watch.

KSBW contributed to this report

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