Hugh Henderson, who served on the Otsego County Board of Representatives for 24 years, acknowledged Monday night that he was arrested and charged with petit larceny by State Police after he removed signs stating two GOP candidates for Oneonta town board voted against a drilling moratorium.
Henderson, 76, said the signs in question were located on state land and he did not believe he was doing anything improper when he removed them.
He said the signs misrepresented the moratorium controversy because the two officials named on the signs, Fred Volpe and Brett Holleran, were not on the town council but on the planning board when they came out against the moratorium.
Henderson, a former town of Oneonta GOP chairman, said he plans to fight the charge lodged against him by a state trooper Tuesday morning.
In March, Henderson received the Eugene A. Bettiol Jr. Distinguished Citizen award from the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce. When the award was presented, Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, was quoted by The Daily Star as describing Henderson as “a true gentleman and a community-minded person.”
The producer of the signs, drilling moratorium backer Michael Stolzer, 60, said the laminated placards, attached to wooden stakes, stated “Volpe & Holleran voted against moratorium.”
Stolzer said State Police were called at about 11 a.m. Tuesday after Henderson was observed removing the signs from the north side of State Highway 23 near the Lettis Highway, across the street from the McDonald’s restaurant on the Southside.
“The signs were being taken down as fast as we could put them up,” he said.
Henderson said he was shaken by the arrest, pointing out he had never before been charged with an offense. In addition to serving on the county board, he was a town councilman for 12 years.