Last weekend, a con man was arrested after he allegedly charged a pair of tourists $200 each for tickets on the Staten Island Ferry. Now suspect Gregory Reddick, 54, and his employer, SJQ Sightseeing Tours, are suing the city and the arresting officers saying they have been harassed and prevented from (legally) taking advantage of tourists.

Reddick, who was arrested on May 27th on Pier 15, allegedly sold two tickets to the Staten Island Ferry to two tourists from Virginia and charged them $409, despite the fact that the Ferry is free. Reddick, who was wearing an "Authorized Ticket Agent" jacket at the time, allegedly pushed an officer and tried to make a run for it, but was stopped by cops. The tourists were long gone by the time of his arrest, but Reddick was still charged with second-degree obstructing government administration, resisting arrest, unlawful vending and disorderly conduct.

Gregory Reddick

SJQ claims in their suit that a 2013 appeals court decision gives them the right to sell tickets to tourists. The Post reports:

The new Manhattan Supreme Court suit says “vendors of tickets to entertainment are exempt from the license requirements of the General Vendors Law because they do not vend goods or services.”

But the 2013 case, Matter of New York Skyline, only addresses the sale of tickets on city sidewalks, not in public parks.

It also doesn’t give a pass to schemers or scalpers.

Corey Lashley, founder of SJQ Tours, defended his company at a press conference yesterday, noting that the group sells tickets for boat rides that go around certain sites in New York Harbor (and their tickets cost $28). According to Queens Chronicle, Lashley said his company and his workers "have been subjected to 'borderline harassment' from law enforcement authorities over vending permits that he said courts and administrative law judges say are not needed."

Parks advocates have long called for stricter crackdowns on illegal vendors: "It's the wild wild west down there," said parks advocate Geoffrey Croft. "The scalpers display no IDs. They operate in broad daylight on parks property. Besides the Parks Department, where is the Department of Consumer Affairs? They're absent."

Police said that Reddick had "at least five aliases, six Social Security numbers and seven dates of birth — and has spent at least nine years in prison for burglary and credit-card fraud." He said that while that is all true, he had turned his life around in recent years: "The charges against me are false," he said at the press conference. "My rap sheet is real. But I’ve spent more than nine years turning my life around. I have a job. I pay taxes. ... It’s better than McDonald’s money. It’s better than Burger King money."