A high-ranking state official whose wife is running against Baltimore County State Sen. Jim Brochin is being accused of stealing Brochin's campaign signs, an incident the senator's opponent called "a misunderstanding."
Marc Lazerow, Brochin's campaign manager, said he found Maryland Commissioner of Labor and Industry J. Ronald DeJuliis and two other men in the midst of tearing down four Brochin campaign signs near a busy intersection Saturday afternoon. Connie DeJuliis, DeJuliis's wife and Brochin's opponent in the Democratic primary, said Sunday her husband had permission from the owner of the property to put up her campaign signs and that her husband thought Brochin's campaign signs had been placed there improperly.
"I say it's much ado about nothing," Connie DeJuliis said. "It was clearly a misunderstanding."
Baltimore County police spokeswoman Cpl. Cathy Batton confirmed Mr. DeJuliis had been charged in connection with the incident. Court records show he faces a misdemeanor charge of theft under $1,000. Lazerow pursued charges against DeJuliis on Saturday and said he also planned to pursue charges against the other two men.
On Monday, police identifed those men as Charles Philip Buttiglieri, 62, of the 900 block of Arncliffe Rd and Casey Akeem Addison, 29, of the 7600 block of Cedar Farm Drive. They face the same misdemeanor charge.
Lazerow said he and Mr. DeJuliis had words as he was calling 911 to report seeing the men removing the campaign signs from an area near the intersection of Loch Bend Drive and East Joppa Road in Parkville.
"It wasn't the most pleasant conversation," Lazerow said.
The 4-by-8-foot "Brochin for Senate" signs were dismantled with a drill and stuck in the back of a pickup truck, Lazerow said. After officers arrived, Mr. DeJuliis and the other two men, whom Connie DeJuliis identified as campaign volunteers, returned the signs. Lazerow and police say the wood and metal that held up the signs were not returned, but Connie DeJuliis disputed that account.
Lazerow said the signs are worth about $100 apiece when purchased individually.
Brochin, who is running for reelection in a district that includes Towson, Hunt Valley and Hereford, said he thought the incident was "pretty sad."
"Connie and I clearly have a difference of opinion on obeying the law," he said. As for her husband, Brochin said, "He's in the governor's cabinet and he ought to know better."
Connie DeJuliis said the incident should not be considered a theft and she thought it was "somewhat silly" Brochin's staff is pursuing charges.
"It's been explained and rectified," she said. "They chose to accelerate the situation to the point where they are cluttering up our court system with something that is clearly minor."
J. Ronald DeJuliis declined to comment, according to his wife. As Commissioner of Labor and Industry, his duties include overseeing workplace safety, employer compliance with wage laws and the regulation of apprenticeship programs.
Baltimore Sun reporter Yvonne Wenger contributed to this report.