Joey Vento accuses the city of horseplay

Geno’s Steaks owner Joey Vento is outraged that the cash-strapped city has refused his offer to provide two horse trailers for the Philadelphia Police Department’s new mounted unit.

According to Vento, he had an arrangement with Lt. Dan McCann, who runs the new unit, and he agreed to buy two horse trailers, at a cost of over $20,000 but asked for a small plaque to be placed on the side that they had been donated by Joey Vento.

“The plaque is the big issue,” Vento said yesterday, explaining that the city had refused the trailers because it didn’t want to put the plaque on the equipment.

Vento has previously donated motorcycles to the police department, which are unmarked, and cycles to the Aston, PA and Medford, NJ police departments, which bear his name on them.

“We did get a request from Mr. Vento that he would provide a couple horse trailers and he wanted an advertisement attached noting his company name and logo and we respectfully declined becuase we don’t do that,” Mayor Nutter’s press secretary Mark McDonald said Tuesday.

“We’re encouraging contributions to the Philadelphia Police Foundation. I would certainly hope Mr. Vento would continue his public-spirited contribution through the foundation,” he said.

The steak mogul believes the city is out to get him because he beat a case brought on by the Human Relations Commission which charged him with discrimination over the “This is America: When Ordering, Speak English” sticker outside the restaurant.

“All of a sudden my tables are illegal, my zoning is illegal. It all started in the last seven or eight months,” says Vento.

“He’s giving too much credit to the ability of government,” McDonald said. “There is no conspiracy to give Mr. Vento a hard time. He’s assuming some kind of rationality behind separate actions by individual agencies,” he said.

The police department praised Vento for his longtime support Tuesday night.

“Joey Vento has been the number one supporter of the Philadelpihia Police Department and fallen officers and their families and we thank him for that,” police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers said Tuesday. “Because of the issue of advertising we can’t acept the offer at this time," he said.

“Maybe the state police will take them. They got horses,” Vento told us Tuesday. A state police official could not be reached as to whether the state wants them.