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Sign switch: Not guilty

Lawyer acquitted in sign theft caper

Lawyer acquitted in sign theft caper

March 06, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - A Hagerstown attorney was acquitted Monday in Washington County Circuit Court of theft of items worth less than $100 in a campaign sign-stealing case.

Washington County Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone ruled in favor of Gregory Hannigan, who appealed a Washington County District Court verdict that found him guilty of stealing a $4.20 sign for Gordon Lynn, who ran for Washington County state's attorney in September's Republican primary election.

Boone said the state did not prove that Lynn owned the sign, which is necessary in proving theft. The campaign committee owned the sign, Boone said.

Lynn filed the charge against Hannigan on Sept. 27, 2006, alleging that Hannigan was seen stealing a 3-foot-by-4-foot campaign sign from a grassy area in front of Gold's Gym on Northern Avenue. Hannigan replaced Lynn's sign with a Gregory Bannon sign, Lynn testified Monday.

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Bannon also ran for state's attorney in the Republican primary.

Lynn kicked down Bannon's sign, used profanity and yelled when he realized what happened, he admitted under oath. About 18 campaign signs placed in that area went missing during the campaign, Lynn said.

Hannigan's attorney, Charles S. Rand, called the case "much ado about nothing" during his opening statement.

Linda Thomas, deputy state's attorney for Allegheny County, presented the state's case. During her opening statement, she called the alleged theft a "crime of arrogance" because Hannigan acted as though the law didn't apply to him.

A day after the incident, Bannon, of Boonsboro, finished about 300 votes ahead of Lynn, of Hagerstown, in a three-way race for the Republican nomination to run for state's attorney.

Both men lost to Charles P. Strong, the current state's attorney.

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