A Belleville businessman was charged with a misdemeanor Tuesday in connection with the theft of a political sign posted on North Illinois Street in Swansea.
John J. Brisk, 62, was charged with theft under $300, according to Swansea Police Chief Mike Arnold. Police gave Brisk a non-traffic complaint and notice to appear.
The sign said "Eckert Sux as Mayor," referring to incumbent Belleville mayor Mark Eckert, who was running for re-election against two other candidates in Tuesday's election. The sign was put up by Belleville resident and landlord Rick Brown on property Brown owns in Swansea.
"I took that sign down and put it back up ... same day, same night," Brisk said Tuesday. "I left and I came right back... They accused me of something. I didn't do it."
Brown reported the incident to Swansea police after another Belleville landlord, Lee Otis Griffin, said he saw Brisk take the sign from Brown's property at 1104 N. Illinois St. on Sunday.
Griffin said he confronted Brisk and Brisk drove off with the sign anyway. Griffin took down Brisk's license plate information and gave it to police.
Arnold said Brisk told police he took the sign because he didn't like the wording on it.
"He said it was not politically motivated. He was just doing it on his own. Nobody put him up to it," Arnold said.
Brisk owns two Belleville bars, Cutter's and Tim & Joe's, and Cheap Cigarettes, also in Belleville. He said he pulled the sign out of the ground because he did not want such a message at the entrance to the city. He said he didn't want visitors, especially young children, to see the sign.
Brown has displayed similar signs on several of his properties throughout the campaign season. He said this was the 10th such sign that was stolen.
Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.