Professor John Mulvey, who was charged with stealing 21 lawn signs promoting a local computer repair company, has retained a lawyer and will fight the charges in Trenton Superior Court.
But as he prepares to do so, police records records obtained by The Daily Princetonian this week under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act show that Mulvey allegedly admitted to police in his home that he had, in fact, continuously removed the signs.
In addition, the owner of the property from which the signs were stolen, Joyce Johnson, said only the signs for Princeton Computer Tutor & Repairs, a local computer company, were taken even though there were other signs on her property, including some political ones.
The missing lawn signs belonged to Ted Horodynsky, president of Princeton Computer Tutor & Repairs.
According to the records, officers at Mulvey’s home confronted him about the apparent targeting, but he “couldn’t explain why he only removed Horodynsky’s signs.”
He did not respond to a request for comment, nor did his lawyer.
Mulvey, who is a faculty member in the operations research and financial engineering department, is accused of stealing the signs for over a period of one year. The signs are valued at a total of $470.82. Because the value of the signs is greater than $400, the case is being transferred to Trenton Superior Court.
Mulvey told officers that the signs “were distracting to look at, and he didn’t feel that Horodynsky had permission” to place his signs on that property, a police report reads.
Mulvey’s wife, Laurie, admitted to being present in the passenger seat of the vehicle when Mulvey committed the alleged theft on at least one occasion, the records show. Mulvey voluntarily turned over the signs in his garage, apparently hidden under pool furniture, to the police.
Johnson said she had authorized Horodynsky to place the signs on her property. After some time, when she wanted them removed, Horodynsky told her they had already been taken.
“We asked [Horodynsky] to take them off, and he said that they were already missing,” Johnson said.
Johnson also confirmed that the signs were on the lawn, not in the street or on the sidewalk.
Horodynsky said he believes the signs were stolen as a result of a traffic incident from August of last year that occurred near Rosedale and Elm roads. Following the incident, he said he received a phone call from an unnamed male caller, who threatened to remove all advertisements for his company in response to the incident. Three days later, Horodynsky said he began to notice that his signs in the area were missing.
Mulvey told police officers that he never had any personal issues with Horodynsky, records indicate.
Horodynsky set up several cameras and was able to film a man resembling Mulvey taking the signs twice last week. These videos were turned over to the police, who were able to positively identify both Mulvey and his car.
Initially, Mulvey said in response that he thought the signs were debris left on the side of the road.
Mulvey, who has been an ORFE professor since 1978, also founded and serves as chairman of DPT Capital Management, a local investment firm.