Phoenix promoter Phil Immordino's "Running of the Bulls" extravaganza Saturday suddenly turned into a run-in with the Arizona law.
Immordino was arrested by Mojave County sheriff's deputies about two hours after the well-publicized event, which drew about 700 runners and nearly 8,000 spectators to the Oasis Ranch and Gun Club.Sheriff's spokesman Steve Johnson said Tuesday that Immordino was arrested and jailed after he refused to sign a citation and promise to appear in court on a Class II misdemeanor charge of "contracting a special event without zoning use permits."
Johnson said deputies talked to the promoter at length on Friday about the problem of going ahead with the event without the proper county permits.
"He knew in advance he was going to be cited," the sheriff's spokesman said. "All he would have had to do was sign the citation and let the thing go to court.
"It caught everybody by surprise when he refused," Johnson added. "We had no option other than to take him into custody."
Immordino, who was not available for comment, spent the night in the Mesquite jail and pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge Sunday in the Justice Court at Moccasin, Ariz. He was released on a $200 bond.
Sheriff's deputies were on hand during the bull runs Saturday but did not confront Immordino until after the event had concluded.
"We had no authorization or desire to shut down the event prior" to the runs, Johnson added. "No crime was committed until the event had taken place."
Ironically, Immordino was the only person arrested during Saturday's event. Police said there were no incidents of crime or violence, although paramedics handled 41 cases of heat exhaustion that resulted from 105-degree temperatures and lack of shade.
The "Running of the Bulls" was originally scheduled for downtown Mesquite but was moved to the Oasis Ranch and Gun Club - located just over the border in Arizona - after the Nevada Department of Transportation decided the event could not use a state road.
Kirk Lee, the director of public relations for the Oasis Resort and Casino, said the arrest did not dampen the enthusiasm of the promoter or other event organizers who met Monday to begin planning next year's bull run.
"We're excited about it," he said. "The run exceeded all our expectations, and we're planning to do it again."
Next year, he conceded, organizers will pay more attention to getting permits ahead of time.