A Princeton municipal court judge dismissed on Monday a charge of theft against operations research and financial engineering professor John Mulvey on the condition that Mulvey perform 120 hours of community service.
Mulvey was accused of removing lawn signs belonging to Princeton Computer Tutor and Repairsfrom private properties over the course of about a year.
The allegedly stolen signs were listed as valued at $470.82.
Ted Horodynsky, president of Princeton Computer Tutor and Repairs, set up several cameras and filmed Mulvey taking the signs twice in July. These videos were turned over to the police, who were able to positively identify both Mulvey and his car.
“Mr. Mulvey would be happy to perform community service and do so in an educational institution,” Mulvey’s attorney Kim Otis said at the hearing on Monday. “To the extent it is possible to do that in Trenton, he will do it. Otherwise, we'll have to come back to the court and discuss that further. Mr. Mulvey understands that although the charges are being dismissed, were he not to comply, they could be refiled. We do appreciate Mr. Horodynsky's understanding.”
Mulvey did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Tuesday.
Horodynsky told municipal court judge John McCarthy III that he was satisfied at the case’s outcome.
“I'm glad Professor Mulvey has agreed to do this community service,” Horodynsky said. “The venue is appropriate.”
During the hearing, Mulvey explained he was considering mentoring AP Computer Science students in Hamilton or elsewhere.
“I'd be happy to do that,” Mulvey said in court. “I think it'd be best if I could use my expertise.”
McCarthy noted there was no time frame to complete the community service but Otis needed to update the court on how and where the community service would be performed and provide evidence of the service.
McCarthy also said that Mulvey should have no contact with Horodynsky.
Horodynsky explained after the hearing that he placed signs on private property in coordination with a homeowner who had kept other types of signs on her front lawn in an attempt to identify the person who had been removing his signs for the 11 months prior. Horodynsky found that only his signs were removed.
Horodynsky said he had been the recipient of a phone call from an unidentified male caller who was upset with Horodynsky allegedly cutting him off in traffic and that the caller said he would remove Horodynsky’s signs until Horodynsky called him back.
Horodynsky said the caller’s number was blocked and that a few days later, his signs started disappearing. He contacted the police, who were unable to help him until he obtained video of the thefts in progress, at which point they conducted a stakeout.
Horodynsky said he believes the intent of the sign removal was to hurt his business.
“Probably 50 percent [of my business is from] advertisements, and 50 percent referrals,” Horodynsky said. “Unless he fails to complete his community service, I'm not likely to ever see him in court again. I didn't get an apology.”
Nonetheless, Horodynsky said the outcome of the case was fair.
“[The community service] is 15 days if you calculate it at eight hours a day,” he said. “And that's, I think it's appropriate. Considering this activity that he denies having engaged in occurred over 11 months. So, 15 days versus 11 months, I'm acceptable to that.”