Charges not being sought after council woman’s alleged sign theft

CLAYTON — No charges have been filed against a council woman who was allegedly stealing campaign signs from a fellow council woman’s yard.

After filing an Open Records Request with the Rabun County Sheriff’s Office, the investigative summary was obtained by WRBN/WGHC News which detailed the incident.

On Friday, May 4 an investigator with the RCSO received a request from the Clayton Police Department to look into an incident where a campaign sign had been stolen and a person of interest had been captured on surveillance footage.

According to the investigative summary, the surveillance camera had been placed in an attempt to catch whoever was stealing campaign signs. Law enforcement said it had been the third incident of a campaign sign being stolen from the same location.

Multiple photographs supplied to the RCSO from the Clayton Police department entailed a vehicle which according to law enforcement belonged to City of Clayton Council Member Elizabeth Chapman. Also contained in another photo furnished by Clayton Police Department is a female person identified as Elizabeth Chapman, who is shown carrying the reported stolen campaign sign.

During the investigation, law enforcement learned that the complainant, Ara Joyce’s husband is the individual who had placed the campaign sign on the access road of the Stornoway subdivision.

The investigator responsible for handling the case learned that Joyce also currently holds a seat as a City of Clayton Council Member.

Following a meeting with Chapman at the RCSO, a written statement in which Chapman apologized regarding the incident was submitted along with a document titled “Stornoway Political Sign Policy.”

According to Mimi Nash Chairman of Stornoway Condos Road Maintenance, INC. “Condominium, Section XI, Item 6, ‘Signs’, Stornoway does not permit the placing of political signs on the property.”

A direct passage from Chapman’s apologetic letter addressed to Joyce and the RCSO is as follows:

“I apologize to Mrs. Joyce for taking her political sign off the right-of-way of a Stornaway street. I did not know it was her sign or that she had placed it there. Had I known it was her sign, I would have contacted her first and asked her to remove it. Our restrictive covenants do not permit political signs. We have no good enforcement mechanism, and going by past experience, I thought it was OK to engage in self-help and remove the sign myself. I delivered it to Mrs. Nash, who is co-president of our road committee. Mrs. Nash asked me, yesterday, to take it back, and I complied with her request.”

According to the letter and confirmed by Rabun County Sheriff Chad Nichols, the theft by taking charge, a misdemeanor, was dropped by Joyce who agreed with Chapman to dismiss her criminal complaint based on her apology.

“She decided that she didn’t want it to be prosecuted,” Nichols said. “Investigator Marty Talley continued the investigation and then closed it because the victim was not wanting to prosecute. It’s a misdemeanor offense so that’s it.”