|By Matt Elliott and Nicole Marshall,
Tulsa World, Okla.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Mar. 22, 2006 - A hotel manager who was concerned about guests' privacy was arrested Monday night on complaints alleging that she violated a municipal ordinance that requires hotels to provide registration information about guests when police request it.
Police officers initially intended to write Charity Gugello, 31, a citation for allegedly refusing to tell them who was staying in a particular room at the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel near 71st Street and U.S. 169, an arrest report shows.
Police were called to the hotel by an anonymous tipster who complained of drug activity there, Sgt. Jonathan Brooks said.
Sgt. Kim Presley said Gugello wouldn't provide information about who was in the room even after officers showed her a copy of the law.
"She asked to make a phone call (and) went to the back office with the statute book," her arrest report says.
Brooks said that "the manager pretty much just thwarted that whole investigation from that point on."
When Gugello refused to give officers the information about herself that they needed to write her a citation, they arrested her about 10:30 p.m. on municipal complaints alleging that she violated the inspection-of-records law and obstructed the officers, an arrest report shows.
Chapter 16 of the city's penal code governs hotels, motels and rooming houses. It requires that names and addresses of all guests be kept and that registration information be made available to police.
Reached at home Tuesday, Gugello had no comment and referred questions to the hotel's management.
Robert Fugazi, regional vice president of John Q. Hammons Hotels Management Co., which operates the hotel, said in an e-mailed response to questions from the World that the police had asked Gugello who was in Room 246, which Fugazi said does not exist.
The police then asked for a list of all guests, he said. "The manager was very concerned about providing a list of all guests' names and addresses," Fugazi stated. "The request was so broad and unique, she felt compelled to contact senior management, which she was attempting to do when she was arrested."
The company paid Gugello's bond so that she could be released from jail, Fugazi said.
He said managers treat the privacy and safety of their guests seriously but are aware that guests' names can be verified for police without a warrant. They also are trained about federal, state and local laws regarding guest privacy, he said.
Brooks said that on the occasions when police have problems with compliance with the ordinance, it's usually with the employees of new hotel chains who aren't aware of it. Even so, most are cooperative once police show them the law, he said.
The $50 million, 300-room Renaissance Tulsa Hotel and Convention Center employed about 200 full- and part-time workers when it opened three years ago.
If Gugello had given the officers her personal information, she would have received only a citation, Brooks said.
Fugazi said he didn't believe that Gugello thought her job might be threatened if she complied with the officers' request.
The Tulsa hotel's employees have assisted with police investigations many times, but "in each case a name or alias was provided," he said.
"Asking for a nonexistent room number and a blanket list of all guests and addresses was very unusual, causing our manager to seek clarification."
His statement added that "if there are local ordinances involving guest privacy while in hotels that require additional interpretation and training, we will certainly do that using the company's resources and that of the local and state hotel associations."
Presley said the law is not used randomly, especially if officers have other means to conduct an investigation.
Matt Elliott 581-8366 firstname.lastname@example.org
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