Accused sign vandal pleads not guilty

A former Costa Mesa city employee accused of vandalizing campaign signs pleaded not guilty Monday.

Steven White, 39, of Costa Mesa, entered his plea on one misdemeanor count of vandalism in Orange County Superior Court in Newport Beach, according to a court official.

He stands accused of destroying two City Council campaign signs along Fair Drive on Oct. 20. One sign supported Councilmen Steve Mensinger and Gary Monahan, who both went on to win in November, and Planning Commissioner Colin McCarthy, who lost. The second sign supported Measure V, a proposed city charter measure that failed at the polls.

At the time of the vandalism, White was a city maintenance worker. City employee groups largely opposed Measure V, arguing it would give the council too much power.

The Costa Mesa Taxpayers Assn., which supported Measure V, posted on its website a video shot by a private investigator of a barefoot man with large goatee ripping the 3M sign and throwing the pieces in a bush. The man seen in the video threw the Measure V sign onto a driveway.

White was placed on administrative leave shortly after the event. The city announced in late January that he was no longer a city employee, although officials declined to say whether he left voluntarily.

He is next expected in court for a pre-trial hearing April 11, according to a court official.

If convicted, White could face up to a year in jail, a $1,000 fine, restitution or probation, according to prosecutors.


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