Safety Harbor, Florida -- It's Election Day on Tuesday, and you may think the nastiest race is between Alex Sink and David Jolly for the late Bill Young's Congressional seat, but 10 Investigates has discovered a criminal investigation that stems from sign-stealing in the Safety Harbor mayoral race.
Both candidates in the Safety Harbor race -- incumbent Mayor Joe Ayoub and former Mayor Andy Steingold --have accused one another of pilfering their signs. And while both sides can make charges, only one side has an undercover tape that proves it's happening.
Jim Barge,one of Mayor Ayoub's top campaign contributors, confronted Steingold as he was telling 10 News about his signs being stolen.
"You should be ashamed of yourself," Barge said to Steingold. "You should be ashamed of yourself."
But Steingold says Barge should look in the mirror, or at least look at the video from a camera that caught Barge stealing one of Steingold 's campaign signs.
Barge immediately took umbrage and maintained, "This is not about the sign, this is about this guy who does not deserve to be mayor."
The staunch Ayoub-supporter told 10 Investigates he is outraged Steingold filed a criminal complaint against him for allegedly stealing signs.
During the interview, Barge began to criticize Steingold. "For him to come out with this sign incident on the eve of the election..."
But we interrupted, "Well, you did steal the sign."
According to Barge, however, it wasn't stealing. "No! It's not theft, it was on private property," he said.
While Barge insists the sign was on private property, a diagram attached to the deed says the area is a potential prescriptive easement, and the property appraiser says it is hard to tell.
Meanwhile, Safety Harbor Mayor Joe Ayoub says it is ludicrous that police were called and that the state attorney is considering filing charges over the theft of a $4 sign.
And if Barge didn't like Steingold beforehand, the animosity is worse now as he derided the former mayor.
"You're such a baby, do you need a pacifier? Somebody call Andy's mommy, he needs a little hug the night before the election," he said.
Steingold, however, said more than 300 of his signs have been stolen, and that's why his supporters set up an undercover camera. Ayoub says several of his have also been taken, but admitted he doesn't have the same proof Steingold does.
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