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Sign case ends with no charges filed
Items may have been on public right of way
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Forsyth County News

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office did not file any charges following an investigation of campaign signs found at a local woman’s home.

According to a July 13 incident report, deputies discovered a pile of local election signs outside the home of Joni Owens after they responded to reports of a domestic dispute.

Sheriff’s Capt. Tim House said investigators could not determine where the signs had come from. Owens maintained she had removed the signs from public right of way, where it is illegal to place them.

“We never saw her take it. We don’t know if sign ‘A’ came from location ‘A.’ We didn’t know because she didn’t know,” House said.

“So we could never conclusively prove that this particular sign was taken from this man’s property and that it wasn’t garbage based on what the law says about illegally placing signs on the right of way.”

Each candidate who had a campaign sign found at Owens’ home was given a victim’s assistance packet and directed to Magistrate Court if they wished to seek a warrant, House said.

“It’s the same thing we’d do for anybody else that’s a victim of a misdemeanor crime that we did not witness or could not conclusively prove they had done that crime,” he said.

The initial incident report indicated the candidates’ signs seized by deputies as evidence included: nine for Steve Voshall; six each for Lauren McDonald and Harold Bennett; four for Duane Piper; two for Patrick Bell; and one each for Charles Meagher, Bill Mulrooney, Geoff Duncan, Cindy Mills and Mary Beth Pais.

Mark Musselwhite, who was a candidate for coroner, said he also retrieved four of his signs from those collected, though they were not listed in the report.

All the candidates were Republicans on the July 31 primary ballot.

Owens, a former president of the local chamber of commerce, worked on Paxton’s campaign as a paid commissioned fundraiser for a few weeks, from mid-June to early July.

However, she had been terminated from that position by the time of the incident, according to the sheriff. She also gave $250 to Paxton’s campaign in late June.

Paxton faces Piper in an Aug. 21 runoff. McDonald finished third in the primary.