Published January 23. 2014 4:00AM
Montville - Former Town Councilor Dana McFee turned himself in to the state police Wednesday on an arrest warrant for sixth-degree larceny, a charge that refers to his alleged theft of a campaign sign in late October.
Gary Murphy, a former Democratic town councilor, sent a letter to The Day in October alleging that McFee, a Republican, had stolen a political sign from his yard on Oct. 26, about a week before the municipal election in which McFee lost his bid for re-election.
The sign read "Dump Dana," a reference to McFee's outspoken advocacy for townwide curbside trash pickup. His position was unpopular in Montville because of residents' fondness for the transfer station and its employees.
In his letter to The Day, Murphy said he set up a motion-sensitive camera on his neighbor's porch after his signs went missing three times in a row. Murphy alleged that images taken by his camera showed McFee removing a fourth sign from his property. Murphy filed a complaint with Resident State Trooper Martin Martinez on Oct. 28.
Murphy said his purchase of 10 "Dump Dana" signs with stakes cost $175.00.
McFee said Wednesday that the "Dump Dana" sign - which he called "demeaning and derogatory" - was not on Murphy's property but on the neighboring property. McFee, who discussed the sign in question but would not confirm nor deny removing it, said the owner of the neighboring property did not wish to display the "Dump Dana" sign.
"There's not a place for that kind of stuff at election time," said McFee about the sign and the larceny complaint. "Only in Montville would we do something so ridiculous."
McFee added that he felt no crime had been committed and that the sign itself was morally wrong.
"I'm not a thief. I've never been a thief," he said. "If (you) came across a sign on the side of the road that was aimed at (you), would (you) confiscate the sign?"
In his letter to The Day in October, Murphy said he filed the complaint to protect his right to free speech.
"Make no mistake about it, I really dislike Mr. McFee and in my opinion he is the worst town councilor ever," wrote Murphy. "Some may say this is petty or it's only a sign. Yes, it's only a sign but it's my sign and my right as an American citizen to display that sign."
McFee is scheduled to appear in court in Norwich on Feb. 12.