Hamilton County council candidate charged with stealing opponent’s signs

In April, Hamilton County council candidate Rick McKinney said four signs went missing. He found rope, and a cell phone at the scene. (WISH Photo)
In April, Hamilton County council candidate Rick McKinney said four signs went missing. He found rope, and a cell phone at the scene. (WISH Photo)

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) – A Hamilton County council candidate faces a mischief charge after his opponent’s political signs went missing.

In April, Rick McKinney was puzzled as to how five signs, totaling nearly $1,000 went missing. Instead of signs, he found ripped rop, and a cell phone.

A device prosecutors say helped solve the case. The phone was found at one location, but court documents show it pinged at every site where signs were stolen on the very day they went missing.

Prosecutors said the phone belongs to county council candidate Jeff Hern. In April, Hern refused to answer 24-Hour News 8’s questions.

But court documents show he talked to deputies. He told them his phone went missing and added, “Stranger things have happened,” and “Someone must be setting me up.”

Since McKinney, a current councilor, approves the county prosecutor’s budget, a special prosecutor investigated the case. He said it took six months because of the investigation into the phone.

Hern is a Fall Creek Township trustee. He won the county council primary in April, and is on next month’s ballot.

McKinney spoke to us by phone. He’s glad to see a charge filed. With the election two weeks away, he would like Hern to resign if elected.

If convicted, Hern faces one year behind bars, and a $10,000 fine. We reached out to him by email, but have not heard back.

The person listed as his attorney declined to comment. No court date has been set for his first appearance.