A Costa Mesa city employee suspected of illegally tampering with campaign signs has been charged with misdemeanor vandalism, prosecutors said Wednesday.
If convicted, Steven Charles White, 39, of Costa Mesa, faces a sentence ranging from probation to a year in jail, a $1,000 fine and restitution, the Orange County district attorney's office said in a news release.
Prosecutors said White, a city maintenance worker at the time, on Oct. 20 removed and destroyed two campaign signs posted along Fair Drive. One supported council candidates Steve Mensinger, Gary Monahan and Colin McCarthy, who campaigned together as the "3Ms"; the other supported Measure V, the proposed city charter.
The election was highly charged with many city employee associations and a community group opposing the 3Ms, who called for public-employee pension reforms and the charter measure, and a taxpayers group strongly supporting that measure and the candidates.
White has been on paid administrative leave since shortly after the incident pending the results of a separate personnel investigation, said city spokesman Bill Lobdell.