Wake Co. man charged with stealing campaign signs

Posted October 13, 2012 2:33 p.m. EDT
Updated October 13, 2012 2:47 p.m. EDT

A Wake Forest Democrat has been charged with larceny for stealing a fellow Democrat's campaign signs in a state House race.

The Wake County Sheriff's Office says Samuel A. Blackwell, III was cited Friday night for taking campaign signs belonging to Watt Jones, Democratic candidate for House District 40 in north Raleigh. Jones is running against incumbent Republican Marilyn Avila.

Jones said several of his signs had disappeared from an intersection along Durham Rd. He set up a surveillance camera that caught photos of a man putting Jones's campaign signs into the trunk of a car on Thursday and again on Friday.

The camera captured the car's license plate. Jones reported the plate number to the sheriff's office, and that led deputies to Blackwell, who lives in a nearby neighborhood.

Blackwell, 69, is listed as a registered Democrat. He wasn't immediately available for comment Saturday afternoon.

Jones's name is connected to the sexual harassment scandal that rocked the state Democratic party this spring, resulting in the firing of executive director Jay Parmley and a leadership crisis for NCDP chairman David Parker. Jones sent an email to Parker about the harassment case. That email chain was leaked to reporters, breaking the story wide open. 

Jones has said he was not the source of the leak. He doesn't know Blackwell.

Under state law, the taking of lawfully-placed campaign signs before an election is a Class III misdemeanor. It's punishable by a fine of up to $200.

Campaign sign theft isn't a rare occurrence in North Carolina, but it's unusual for charges to be filed, since there's often no way to prove it.

Charges were filed in one other recent case: a Pinehurst woman was charged in May after a witness saw her taking campaign signs against the same-sex marriage amendment.