An operations research and financial engineering professor arrested for stealing lawn signsearlier this summer might have his charges dropped if he completes community service at Trenton Central High School, according to a deal proposed by the Princeton municipal prosecutor.
John Mulvey, who is teaching ORF 311: Optimization under Uncertainty, ORF 435: Financial Risk Management and ORF 535: Financial Risk Management this semester, was charged with allegedly stealing 21 lawn signs that advertised Princeton Computer Repairs, Tutoring and Digital Services over the course of last year.
Mulvey did not respond to a request for comment.
Ted Horodynsky, owner of the company, alleged that Mulvey stole the signs in retaliation for a traffic incident in which Horodynsky may have cut off Mulvey near a stop sign. The signs were recovered and eventually returned to Horodynsky.
Horodynsky previously provided police and prosecutors with self-made videotapes of Mulvey stealing the signs, which were used in his initial arrest.
Mulvey briefly appeared in Princeton Municipal Court on Monday, The Princeton Packet reported. During this time, some of the details of the potential deal were discussed by municipal prosecutor Reed Gusciora.
“We’re trying to work out a resolution where the matter would be resolved through a community service obligation," Gusciora said outside the courtroom.
Mulvey would not have to plead guilty to stealing the signs. Instead, he would complete a yet-to-be-determined number of hours of community service at the school. The municipal prosecutor proposed 100 hours of service, but he said the high school would be consulted.
"We’re sticking to our guns on 100 hours," Gusciora said. "We all agree that’s time-consuming, but that’s also a lesson learned.”
Because the total value of the signs was greater than $400, the case was moved to Trenton Superior Court. However, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office reviewed the case and subsequently downgraded it back to Princeton Municipal Court.
"This would be a lesson well learned by the professor and at the same time be able to help some good kids in Trenton Central High School," Gusciora said.
Mulvey had previously argued that the signs were in the public right of way, rather than private property. Horodynsky claims he had permission from the homeowners, but Gusciora said that “by a technicality, they were so close to the road, they were in the public right of way."
Gusciora said a trial might become preoccupied with whether or not the signs were placed within six feet of the roadway, the standard for public right of way.
When Horodynksy was asked by Gusciora about the terms of the deal, Horodynksy said he was comfortable with the terms as he believes Mulvey had been “humiliated” enough by news reports of the incident.
Mulvey is expected to be back in court on Oct. 6.