Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sign Stealer Guardino Connected

From Newsday's Matthew Chayes....

"The Republican party political machine runs in the blood of 20-year-old Peter Guardino.

His grandfather, Joseph Colby, became a State Supreme Court justice after serving decades ago as the town supervisor of Oyster Bay. Guardino's father, A. Peter Guardino, was the town's deputy commissioner of human resources and later its labor director. The younger Guardino is a Republican committeeman in Oyster Bay, according to the Republican commissioner at the Nassau County Board of Elections, John DeGrace.

And early Tuesday morning, the scion found himself accused of practicing politics by other means: engaging in a dirty tricks campaign to steal hundreds of campaign signs belonging largely to Democrats.

Guardino makes $41,509 a year working for the Oyster Bay town parks department as an "Equipment Operator 1," according to Phyllis Barry, a town spokeswoman. Barry said Guardino began working for the town in January 2006. She said she did know if any disciplinary action would be taken against Guardino in light of the arrest.

Guardino, of Chestnut Avenue in North Massapequa, was arrested Election Day morning on misdemeanor stolen-property charges after Nassau police officers found about 220 of the signs from different political races in his Chevrolet pickup truck, police say.

Hours earlier, two plainclothes officers said they saw Guardino's truck pull into a Plainview McDonald's with its headlights off at 4 a.m., then saw him yank a Democratic party sign off the restaurant's lawn, police say. Guardino is scheduled to answer the charge in First District Court in Hempstead next week, authorities said.

Before they arrested him, they spent five hours investigating whether Guardino was authorized to remove the signs.

Detectives visited the Plainview Diner on Old Country Road, asking the manager whether an $80 sign for the Nassau County Legislature's presiding officer, Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury), was on diner property before Election Day and whether it was there the morning of Election Day, according to John Papavasilopoulos, the diner's owner.

"We said it wasn't there in the morning," said Papavasilopoulos, who stressed in an interview with Newsday that he supports candidates of all parties and never asked for Guardino to be arrested.

Approached Thursday afternoon outside his Massapequa home, Guardino declined to comment on the charges, referring inquiries to his attorney, whom he declined to name. No attorney for Guardino could be identified."

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