SUWANEE -- A Loganville man was booked at the Gwinnett County Jail this week on charges he tattooed a 14-year-old boy above each knee in a Suwanee motel room.
Brian Urso, 25, faces two misdemeanor counts of tattooing a person under age 18, one for each tattoo.
Suwanee police obtained warrants for Urso in March, when the boy's mother, Tiffany Payne, flagged down an officer at the motel she manages on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.
Payne told police she'd just found the boy's tattoos -- a small tribal symbol above the right knee, and his grandmother's initials above the left -- and that Urso was responsible, according to a Suwanee police report.
The boy told police Urso had tattooed him in a room at the hotel a few months before. Payne told police she did not give permission, and that Urso was aware of the boy's age.
But Urso tells a different story.
While he admits the procedure was illegal, Urso told the Daily Post the boy's mother had given her blessing and was in the room in late 2011 while the boy was being inked. Payne had assisted Urso with lodging when he fell on hard times, and the freelance tattooist was reciprocating the favor, free of charge, he said.
Urso said Payne only came forward to police when her husband found the tattoos a couple of months later.
"(Payne) was in the hotel room while I did the tattoos," Urso said. "The husband had a problem with it."
Tattooing anyone under age 18 is against the law, except when done by a licensed physician or technician for cosmetic or medical purposes, according to Georgia code.
Urso said he has profession tattoo licenses in Florida and Vermont. He'd been doing tattoos in Georgia on a freelance basis until recent legislation heightened sanitary restrictions and required that tattooists work in a shop, he said.
Urso was picked up by Gwinnett authorities as he was being released from Walton County Jail on an unrelated probation violation this week. He posted $4,800 bond and was released in Gwinnett a day later. His court date is pending.
"When we get to court," Urso said, "these charges are going to be dropped."