Alleged political-sign thief pleads not guilty

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: October 4, 2012, 5:38 PM

 

A Vancouver man allegedly caught on camera stealing a candidate’s sign pleaded not guilty Thursday to removing or defacing a political advertisement, a misdemeanor.

John Ellis-Reisdorf, 66, appeared before Clark County District Court Judge Vernon Schreiber. Ellis-Reisdorf will be screened for whether he’s eligible for the diversion program, which dismisses charges in exchange for their staying out of trouble for a year, said Vancouver’s City Prosecutor Kevin McClure.

The diversion program is generally offered to first-time offenders charged with nonviolent offenses.

Ellis-Reisdorf’s next court hearing is Nov. 1, when it will be decided whether he will enter the diversion program, McClure said.

Ellis-Reisdorf was allegedly the subject of a YouTube video on July 30. In the video, former Congressional candidate David Hedrick chased down a bicyclist after spotting him stealing a sign promoting Lynda Wilson, a candidate for Republican precinct committee officer and a member of the PCO Liberty Alliance. Liberty Alliance members were fed up with signs for Wilson going missing, so they set up a camera on Northeast 164th Avenue.

Video evidence later showed Ellis-Reisdorf ditching the sign in nearby bushes, according to court documents.

Later questioned by investigators, Ellis-Reisdorf said it wasn’t politically motivated.

“The subject, John Ellis, advised that he did remove the sign in question,” according to a probable cause affidavit filed with the court. “He advised that he resides in the neighborhood and was aware that the sign was unlawfully placed on the posted property.”

If Ellis-Reisdorf is not found to be eligible for diversion, his case will go to a mandatory pre-trial hearing on Nov. 28. He is representing himself.