Fall Creek Township Trustee and Hamilton County Council at-large candidate Jeff Hern has been charged with criminal mischief for allegedly stealing another candidate's campaign signs before the May primary election.
Hern, a Republican, was accused in April of stealing incumbent Rick McKinney’s campaign signs throughout Fishers. The misdemeanor criminal mischief charge was filed Thursday in Hamilton County Superior Court.
McKinney reported three missing banners located at 116th Street and Olio Road, 116th Street and Cumberland Road and 135th Street and State Road 37 on April 15.
The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office then found Hern’s cell phone near the 116th Street and Cumberland Road location, and Hern confirmed to investigators that his cell phone was missing.
At the time, the sheriff’s department considered Hern a suspect in the case but did not file charges. The case was referred to the Hamilton County prosecutor’s office, who sent it to a special prosecutor to investigate.
According to the charge, the damage is worth between $750 and $50,000. McKinney previously stated the signs were worth $1,000.
The charge comes less than two weeks before the general election. Three Democrats—Edward Chu, Rosemary Dunkle and Bob Williams—are running against Hern, McKinney and incumbent Brad Beaver for the three council at-large seats.
Hern, McKinney and Beaver won the Republican primary race over now-retired Fishers Police Chief George Kehl and longtime Hamilton County resident Bill Dennis.
McKinney, who was boarding an airplane when reached by IBJ, said he’s “relieved that they’re going to take action.”
Hern's attorney, Jennifer Lukemeyer with Indianapolis-based law firm of Voyles, Zahn & Paul, declined to comment.