Minor's ink leads to artist in clink

It was a bad day all around for a 16-year-old girl getting a tattoo and the man who applied the ink, says the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.

The tattoo, "Live like you're dying" below the teen's left breast, left her parents angry and the man who did it charged with three misdemeanors.

Thursday, Benjamin Morales, 33, of Big Coppitt Key, who works at Benny's Tattoo Shop on Stock Island, was arrested on two charges of operating without a state license and one of tattooing a minor without her parents' consent.

The Sheriff's Office says the ink was applied Nov. 3 and that the girl's mother found about it the next day. The mom reportedly went to Benny's and demanded a refund of the $80 cost, which she got. She also said Morales had agreed to remove the ink for free.

At that meeting, Morales reportedly told the girl, "You told me you were 17 and you are going to cost me the only source of income I have to support myself." Morales then reneged on his offer to finance the removal, according to a police report.

The girl's father later got involved and told police that when he picked up his daughter at Benny's the day the tattoo was applied, she told him she was actually at the barbershop in which Benny's is located and told him she had work down on her eyebrows. He thought nothing of it.

Upon questioning by police, the girl said she knew she needed her parents' permission but went to Benny's because "she knew that he had done some tattoo work on a friend of hers who was also a minor."

Morales surrendered when he heard the police wanted to arrest him. He remained in the county jail early Friday on $1,500 bond.