Sep. 16—MIDDLETON — A Middleton man will spend six months on unsupervised probation and must pay $178 in restitution after admitting Thursday to destroying a neighbor's Biden/Harris, Black Lives Matter and Hate Has No Home Here signs last fall.
Michael Leonard Mekolsky, 65, of 38 Village Road, admitted to spray painting over the signs, but continued to maintain on Thursday that the signs were on public property, and said he was concerned that children could see one that said "Grab Him By The Ballot."
As a prosecutor began reading a victim impact statement during Thursday's hearing in Salem District Court, Mekolsky spoke up when she described the location of the four signs.
"So does that mean it is public property?" he asked.
Judge Robert Brennan cut him off. "We can give you an opportunity to test it at trial," he told Mekolsky.
Mekolsky told the judge he still wanted to admit to sufficient facts in the case, a charge of malicious destruction of property.
A Middleton Police officer was on his way to investigate the third report they had received from a resident about lawn signs being spray painted and pulled up back on Oct. 19, when the officer spotted a man at a gas station who looked like the one on the victim's home security footage.
Mekolsky, according to police, admitted to vandalizing the signs, believing that they were on public property. He also told an officer that he too had been "a victim of a crime based on his political beliefs."
In addition to restitution for the signs, Mekolsky was ordered to stay away from the victim. If he complies with those conditions the charge will be dismissed in six months.
"I hope in the future if you disagree with someone's politics you find a more constructive way to address it," Brennan told him.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis