Harrisburg mayoral candidate Lewis L. Butts, Jr. has been charged with criminal mischief and criminal conspiracy–both misdemeanor counts of the second degree–for defacing the campaign signs of candidate Eric Papenfuse with black spray paint, changing Papenfuse’s name to “Papenpuss.”
The impact on the outcome of the election is negligible, as Butts was polling somewhere between zero and 2 percent.
Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico said a taxi driver saw Butts and another, unidentified man defacing a Papenfuse sign at the corner of Cameron and Herr the night of May 11. The taxi driver followed them to another location, where they defaced another sign. The cab driver got the license plate number of the SUV the men were driving. The North Carolina plate was traced to Butts’ sister.
Marsico said Butts admitted to police he had defaced the signs, but refused to give up the name of the man who helped him.
Marsico said the maximum penalty for the charges was two years in prison, but given the value of the signs – $2,100 – and Butts’ prior record, he would most likely be facing a sentence of probation under the sentencing guidelines.
Marsico said investigators got the impression during their interview with Butts that he “regretted his actions and seemed frustrated in the way the campaign was going.”