Pickleball Plea: Central Park man arrested, released, awaiting possible charges for drawing pickleball markings on rec center court

“We hope that the Denver Police Department and the detective working the case recommend that charges not be filed.”
5 min. read
The Central Park Recreation Center. March 18, 2022.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

UPDATE: Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said on March 29 her office will not be filing charges against 71-year-old Arslan Guney.

In a statement, McCann said, "My office has not charged Mr. Arslan Guney with any criminal counts regarding the pickleball incident with Denver Parks and Recreation. At my suggestion, the parties will attempt to resolve this matter through mediation with a city mediator. I am optimistic that by sitting down and working out a mutually-agreeable solution, this matter can be solved amicably."

The pickleball prosecution has led to an arrest and a release.

But 71-year-old Arslan Guney is still not out of the pickle yet.

Guney turned himself into Denver Police Thursday in response to an arrest warrant issued last week accusing the Central Park man of criminal mischief. The crime: drawing 1-by-1 boxes on the floor of the Central Park Recreation Center indicating where pickleball court boundaries should be placed.

Hollynd Hoskins, Guney's attorney, said he spent hours at a Denver detention center before being released on a personal recognizance bond, which allows a person to leave jail without paying any money.

Permanent marker drawing on the court at the Central Park Recreation Center.
Courtesy of Hollynd Hoskins

Now, Guney must wait for the Denver District Attorney's office to make a decision on whether he will be charged. According to Carolyn Tyler, the communications director at the Denver DA's office, it takes "about three business days" before cases are presented to them to determine charges.

Denver police have the option to suggest no charges be filed, and Hoskins said she and the Guney family hope the issues end there.

"We hope that the Denver Police Department and the detective working the case recommend that charges not be filed," Hoskins said. "There was no criminal intent, and we hope Beth McCann and the D.A.'s office sees that."

Pickleball is a popular racket sport that's a mix of tennis, badminton and table tennis. Guney is known by fellow pickleball fans as the "Mayor of Pickleball" and can often be found at the Central Park Rec Center playing and teaching the sport.

On March 14, according to the arrest warrant, staff members at the rec center noticed "several small squares on the basketball court that were drawn in permanent marker." Video footage was reviewed and Guney was seen marking the floors.

Photo of the Central Park Recreation Center's gym.
Courtesy of Hollynd Hoskins

John Martinez, the deputy executive director of Parks and Recreation, asked maintenance staff to remove the markings with a "solvent," but whatever substance was used "was also removing the finish on the floor," according to the warrant.

The warrant tallied the damage at $9,344.58.

Parks and Recreation spokesperson Cynthia Karvaski said the department is in the "process of securing a contractor to refinish the floor and it will take an estimated two to three weeks to complete."

Karvaski previously said protocol requires the department to file a police report for any vandalism cases. But Hoskins said this isn't a case of vandalism.

The courts at the Central Park center aren't permanently marked for pickleball. Instead, yellow raised cloth markers that resemble tape are used to designate the ins and outs of the playing field. Those markers aren't permanent and need to be set up, along with the nets, during pickleball play.

Courtesy of Hollynd Hoskins

According to Hoskins and several witness statements she received, rec center staff previously drew Xs on the court floor to indicate where the yellow markers should go. Hoskins said Guney simply and mistakenly followed suit.

In an email, Hoskins said she and Guney have reached out to Parks and Rec several times "to clear up the misunderstanding, to apologize and to pay any reasonable damages." Hoskins said they also offered "to have the Central Park Pickleball Community agree to volunteer for at-risk children in Denver at any of the recreation centers to teach them pickleball and... offer mentoring and tutoring for their school work."

But Parks and Rec have not returned their request. According to the arrest warrant, Martinez "was not interested in meeting with Mr. Guney" and the department would move forward with the charges.

Hoskins said the Central Park community and other avid pickleball players have reached out in support of Guney. Hoskins is working the case pro-bono.

Besides possible charges, Guney is also banned from all of Denver's rec centers. Hoskins said she's working on appealing that decision.

"He had no intention of destroying or damaging," Hoskins previously said. "He thought because of the previous marks there would be no problem. It's not criminal mischief. He had no intention to deface, to damage or destroy property."

Arslan Guney after being released from a Denver detention center. March 24, 2022
Courtesy of Hollynd Hoskins

Update: A donation link given to us by the attorney was removed from the story. Hoskins said all donation requests have been paused. 

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