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Sign swiper gets 6 months in jail

Published April 5, 2007 5:27 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Posted: 5:27 PM- Call it justice - Grantsville-style.

Dennis McBride was sentenced to six months in jail after being convicted in Grantsville's Justice Court of theft.

So what did the 63-year-old steal? A $7 campaign lawn sign.

Justice of the Peace William Pitts also imposed an $850 fine on McBride and ordered him to serve nine months' probation after his jail term ends.

McBride, who is to report to jail April 30, said he is innocent.

"This is what you call payback," McBride said Thursday. "I was set up."

McBride can appeal the conviction to 3rd District Court. But he said he cannot afford an attorney.

The crime goes back to campaign for Grantsville mayor in fall 2005, when McBride was a volunteer for Craig Anderson's unsuccessful effort to unseat Mayor Byron Anderson.

The mayor's daughter-in-law, Amber Anderson, was the prosecution's key witness. She testified last month that she saw McBride take the sign.

By the time of the citation in November 2005, McBride said there already was bad blood between Grantsville officials and himself.

In 2003, McBride was convicted in Grantsville's Justice Court of damaging his estranged wife's car. That conviction was overturned in Tooele's 3rd District Court when an auto-body expert from Salt Lake City testified that there was no damage to the vehicle.

McBride sued Grantsville in federal court in 2004 for refusing to investigate his estranged wife for alleged forgery. That suit was tossed out.

Grantsville police cited McBride on Nov. 5, 2005, for a class B misdemeanor on allegations that he swiped a campaign sign.

Tooele County public defender Scott Broadhead represented McBride in that case. Broadhead refused comment Thursday.

"He basically didn't do anything," McBride said of the public defender. "They just led me to the slaughter."

Mayor Anderson could not be reached Thursday for comment.

His 2005 opponent, Craig Anderson, said he cannot explain why Grantsville City Attorney Ron Elton pursued the case against his campaign volunteer.

"It's a soap opera. It's an egregious waste of taxpayer dollars," Craig Anderson said. "It's a situation that should have been dropped immediately. And it's just buried [McBride]."

The city attorney could not be reached for comment Thursday.

During the campaign, Craig Anderson said more than 100 of his signs went missing. No charges were ever filed, however. Cries of sign swiping are common during campaign season.

Acting on a tip, Grantsville police pulled McBride over and found a "Byron Anderson for Mayor" sign in the trunk of the car he was driving, owned by Michael Lombard.

Lombard, a friend of McBride, said Thursday that "any number of people had access" to the vehicle in the days leading up to the citation.

"He's the first one [in town] to be charged with theft of a campaign sign," said Lombard, who is a former Tooele County sheriff's deputy and now works as a criminal investigator at the U.S. Army's Deseret Chemical Depot.

"Normally, law enforcement people don't pay attention to these things. They don't have the time or the manpower. This looks like a vengeance thing."

Grantsville Detective Dan Chamberlain said McBride was cited for a minor theft the same way that all minor citations are issued.

"It's like any retail theft. We cited him appropriately," Chamberlain said. "This is getting blown out of proportion. We're tired of this whole mess."





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