On July 8, 2019, Jung Soon Wypcha of St. Petersburg was arrested and charged with criminal mischief and tampering by the Indian Shores Police Department.
Married to the president of AMERIKO, who formerly owned Indian Shores Food Mart located at 19823 Gulf Boulevard Unit “B,” Wypcha was allegedly caught on video urinating, picking her nose, and spitting into ice cream and ice cream-making equipment belonging to next-door business neighbor, Lu Lu’s Ice Cream and Candy Shop.
They shared a back room which contained a restroom, electrical controls, and equipment both companies stored and utilized. Damages to Lulu’s Ice Cream and Candy Shop from Wypcha’s alleged acts were assessed at $2,000. Wypcha suffered an anxiety attack and was hospitalized at the time of her arrest.
But an amended lawsuit is now fighting to dissolve Wypcha’s damaged reputation and garner recompense. It states that Co-Defendant Indian Shores Police Department conducted a faulty police investigation that included false claims of video proof of the malicious acts of which Wypcha was accused, and no retrieval of DNA samples, photographs, or fingerprints for analysis. Other Defendants in the case are the investigation’s detectives, Lulu’s Ice Cream and Candy Shop, and its owner Paul Chiulli, along with companion Beth Skeen.
Wypcha is pursuing justice against what she believes is defamation and false arrest.
The Free Press reviewed the lawsuit and contacted the State Attorney’s Office, discovering that all records of this case have been expunged. With no satisfactory video proof of Wypcha’s alleged mischievous acts, charges made against her were dropped in September 2019 due to lack of evidence.
The lawsuit reiterates per se, “the State Attorney of the Sixth Judicial Court in and for Pinellas County, Florida determined there was no evidence Wypcha committed any crime.”
Nonetheless, Indian Shores Police Department had previously issued a press release stating, “Beginning on 6-17-19, Jung Soon Wypcha was captured on video surveillance on multiple occasions, tampering with the ice cream belonging to Lu Lu’s Ice Cream. She can be seen opening their lids and touching the ice cream with unwashed hands. On one occasion, Jung Soon Wypcha is seen spitting into the freezer that held the ice cream buckets. Jung Soon Wypcha was also seen on three separate occasions, urinating in an empty ice cream bucket used to churn homemade ice cream. She is then seen emptying the bucket in the sink which is used by Lu Lu’s personnel for washing and rinsing the ice cream bowls and utensils. These incidents had been brought to our attention by the owners of Lu Lu’s Ice Cream after review of their video surveillance system.”
The police department is also accused of arresting Wypcha without a warrant and without probable cause, although arrest warrants are not always needed. The lawsuit also claims the owner of Lulu’s Ice Cream and Candy Shop – Paul Chiulli – and Beth Skeen – wrongfully installed a lock on the restroom and removed it only when Wypcha filed suit.
Chiulli and Skeen separately filed Motions to Dismiss Wypcha’s lawsuit on December 10 declaring they had a right to report a suspected crime and not be sued due to an unproven belief their intent was to injure Wypcha’s reputation.
They further exerted that Wypcha’s count against them for “conversion” was only a potential “trespass.” The “trespass” referred to Chiulli and Skeen’s act of barricading Wypcha from entry into the restroom, which according to Skeen in an interview was done after capturing her on video.
When asked if Wypcha was aware new video surveillance was installed in the back room, she replied, “No. But the surveillance was put in because Wypcha started acting ‘fishy.’ They used to eat our ice cream, but then they suddenly quit, saying ‘oh no, oh no.’ And I thought my kosher ice cream supplier was being rough during delivery because the ice cream buckets’ cardboard lids weren’t sealed. But they don’t re-seal after they’ve been opened. We also had a customer who said something was wrong with his ice cream.”
Ironically, both Skeen and Wypcha agree the case was botched by a poor investigation, although that is not proven.
“They showed snippets of random activity by Wypcha. I told them, ‘you didn’t show the most incriminating videos.’ On one, they said the video angle was bad. Paul caught Wypcha urinating into her hand and putting it in the freezer, but the freezer lid blocked the view so you can’t see what she’s doing with her hand.” The freezer allegedly contained ice cream.
Bhavir Shah, the landlord for the two neighboring businesses was contacted and asked if he knew when the owners of Lu Lu’s Ice Cream prohibited Wypcha from sharing the restroom. “I know nothing,” he said and hung up.
Regina A. Kardash representing the Town of Indian Shores and its police department replied to a public record request stating there was no comment on Wypcha’s criminal history records on grounds of “confidentiality.” She is associated with Persson, Cohen, and Mooney, P.A., Lakewood Ranch.
Kyle D. Bass with Weber Crabb and Wein, P.A. of St. Petersburg is Wypcha’s attorney. He did not respond to questions, including if surveillance video would be presented in a jury trial.
When asked why Wypcha would behave as she allegedly did, Skeen said, “I don’t know. We built a wrought iron makeshift playpen because a child was almost hit by a driver. We put it up for safety. Wypcha got really mad about it, but it didn’t take up parking spots. I always thought we were friends. We were devastated about all of this. I can’t wrap my head around it.”