Lee Perlman, the man accused of defacing a Recall Sam Adams petition, was arrested today on a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief in the third degree.
Volunteers Gaye Harris and Joe Favata were getting signatures in the parking lot of the Albina Community Bank in northeast Portland on August 6 when Perlman approached them and asked to sign. He then scribbled across the petition, which already had eight valid signatures, and returned it to the volunteers, saying “here’s my signature,” according to Jasun Wurster, head of campaign to recall the mayor.
The volunteers got a picture of his license plate as he drove away and then called the police, says Wurster.
“We’re deeply disturbed that he thought he could silence eight citizens,” Wurster told the Mercury. “We’re going to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law. Our attorneys are in contact with the DA’s office and the Secretary of State elections division to see if any [more serious] crimes have been perpetrated by Mr. Perlman.”
Perlman is a writer for the Hollywood Star News and other local publications. When contacted Monday for his comment regarding the incident, he said, “I think it best I don’t talk about it.”
Perlman is still in custody on $1,000 bail. The jail only allows visitors on the weekends.
District Attorney Mike Schrunk says he is yet to reach a charging decision in the case.
"We'll figure it out and file the appropriate charge, if there is one," he says. "And if we don't, then we'll come up with a written reason why we haven't charged him."
Schrunk said as far as he knew, there was no conferring between the DA's office and the cops before arresting Perlman. Police spokeswoman Mary Wheat concurred. "We don't make decisions based on politics," she says.
City Auditor Andrew Carlstrom says the eight signatures defaced by Perlman are still valid, because everything is still legible on the petition.
"I'd much rather be thinking about some of the other crimes that happen in this town," says Schrunk. "It's not like it's armed robbery, but it seems to be interfering with the process and there should be a consequence for doing that."
Asked whether he would be pursuing the death penalty in this case, Schrunk declined comment.
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