DOVER, Del. — A law firm that employs a Wilmington attorney charged with stealing a political sign has acknowledged that he took the sign but says he did not remove any other signs, and that there’s an issue as to whether he committed a crime.
Jeffrey Waxman, a partner at Morris James LLP, was charged with one count of theft under $1,500 after surrendering to state police Saturday.
David Williams, managing partner at Morris James, said in an email that Waxman contacted the state Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel on Tuesday to report his arrest, but that the ODC said because Waxman was not charged with a felony, he was not required to report the misdemeanor charge to ODC.
“Under the circumstances outlined above there is an issue as to whether a criminal act was committed,” Williams wrote. “In all events, Jeff Waxman’s conduct does not reflect adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer.”
Jennifer-Kate Aaronson, chief of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, did not immediately return a telephone message Tuesday.
Waxman, 47, also did not return telephone messages seeking comment.
Williams said Waxman removed one Karen Hartley-Nagle campaign sign in Brandywine Park directly across the street from his house and placed the sign in the trash.
“If Jeff did not remove the sign, the sign would have eventually been removed by state parks employees, or state parks personnel would have contacted the Hartley-Nagle campaign and requested that the sign be removed,” Williams wrote.
Williams also said Waxman twice called Hartley-Nagle, who is running for president of New Castle County Council, but that Hartley-Nagle did not return his calls. Williams also said Waxman offered to reimburse her for the sign, but that she declined.
Hartley-Nagle said Waxman showed up last week while she was talking to police at the scene of the sign theft.
“He wasn’t civil,” she said. “He was confrontational, yelling and really belligerent.”
Hartley-Nagle also said Waxman didn’t try to call her until after the sign theft and did not leave her a voicemail. She said Waxman tried to give her $15 for the missing sign, but that she declined the offer.
“That’s not what this was about,” said Hartley-Nagle, who has told police that hundreds of her campaign signs have been removed from locations throughout the county.
Last week, Hartley-Nagle offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of anyone involved in stealing her campaign signs.
Meanwhile, Waxman called the superintendent of Wilmington State Parks on Tuesday morning, following up with a message from his law firm email account seeking confirmation that Hartley-Nagle did not have a permit to post a campaign sign in Brandywine Park.
Park superintendent Susan Staats responded that a permit or approval would be needed to post a campaign sign, but no such approval for campaign signs on land managed by Wilmington State Parks has been granted.
Staats noted, however, that it’s not uncommon to find political signs on state parks land and that campaigns typically are asked to remove them.