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Lake Forest Councilman Admits To Removal Of Campaign Signs

SANTA ANA ( — Lake Forest City Councilman Adam Nick, who led an effort to make stealing campaign signs a misdemeanor, admitted Thursday he removed campaign signs belonging to fellow Councilman Scott Voigts in a deal with prosecutors to drop charges against him.

As part of the deal with prosecutors, Nick donated $1,000 to the Victim Witness Emergency Fund and performed eight hours of community service, according to Deputy District Attorney Jess Rodriguez.

Nick's attorney, Paul Meyer, emphasized that his client did not admit stealing the signs.

"He's not admitting any theft," Meyer said. "Mr. Nick confirmed he removed illegally placed signs and the District Attorney after a thorough evaluation ... has dismissed the case."

Rodriguez clarified that, "Nick sent a letter acknowledging his role in the crimes, but didn't explain what that role was. In that letter he did not admit theft. He acknowledged directing the removal of illegally placed signs belonging to another person. The admission doesn't go beyond that."

"I appreciate the opportunity to resolve the current case pending in Orange County Superior Court," Nick wrote.

"On October 9, 2014, I directed the removal of illegally placed campaign signs belonging to another person," according to the letter. "In order to resolve this matter without the distraction of a public trial, I have donated $1,000 to the Victim Witness Emergency Fund, and performed 8 hours of community service. I understand that the district attorney will resolve the case by way of dismissal of charges."

Nick's attorney, Paul Meyer, emphasized that his client did not admit stealing the signs and that the councilman is "exonerated" by the dismissal of charges.

Misdemeanor charges against Nick were dropped.

"I would note that many first-time-offender petty theft cases resolve for dismissals in exchange for much smaller donations, or perhaps providing a DNA sample," Rodriguez said. "However it was felt that as a public official, Mr. Nick should be held to a higher standard. This resolution accomplishes that while sparing taxpayers the expense of a public trial."

Nick, who was mayor pro tem at the time, was caught last October by Orange County sheriff's deputies directing the removal of Voigts' campaign signs, Rodriguez said. Voigts is currently the city's mayor.

Nick, 50, illegally parked his vehicle about 2 a.m. Oct. 9 at Bake Parkway and Trabuco Road and directed a passenger to get out of his car and take one of Voigts' campaign signs, the prosecutor said.

When deputies searched Nick's car, they found about 10 other Voigts signs, Rodriguez said. He noted that Nick was not running against Voigts for election to the council at the time.

Last year, Nick led the charge on the council to make it a misdemeanor to steal or deface campaign signs, the prosecutor said.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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