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Princeton University Professor Hires Lawyer as Lawn Sign Theft Case Goes to Superior Court

lawnsignsA Princeton University professor charged last week with stealing 21 lawn signs belonging to a local business has hired a lawyer to fight the charges.

John Mulvey, who lives in Princeton, allegedly took signs valued at a total of $470 that belong to Princeton Computer Tutor and Repairs. The thefts occurred between June 30 of 2013 and July of this year. The lawn signs were taken from Rosedale Road near Elm Road.

Mulvey, 67, a professor of operations research and financial engineering at Princeton University, was charged after police conducted an investigation. He was captured on video taking the signs that belong to business owner Ted Horodynsky. Mulvey was in possession of all of the lawn signs and returned them to the police, undamaged.

The case is being moved to Superior Court because the value of the signs is more than $400.

Mulvey told the press last week he had no intention of stealing the signs, was not targeting the business owner, and was only cleaning up what he thought was debris on the road.

Horodynsky said the signs were on private property and that he was given permission by the property owner to place the signs on the property. He claims he received a phone call about 11 months ago in which the caller promised to continue to take the signs every time he saw them because Horodynsky allegedly cut him off at the intersection of Route 206 and Elm Road.

A court date for the case has not been set. It is unclear whether the case will be bumped back down to the municipal court.

Under Princeton’s municipal code, signs are not allowed to be placed in the public right of way, except with the approval of the zoning officer. The approval is based on a finding that the particular type of sign is customarily located within the right-of-way. Signs are not allowed to be attached to benches, utility poles, water tow­ers, storage tanks, smokestacks, or other similar structures, or on trees, rocks or other natural features, according to the code book for the town of Princeton.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • Dismayed

    If one puts up a sign on their lawn advertising, say, “junk removal,” as can now be found at the corner or Harriet and Nassau, put up by “residents” who moved in two days ago, is that something The Good Professor will contest?

    It is, after all, out of scope behavior for Princeton; but, perhaps not for the nouveau riche who don’t bother to learn about their community before they move into an over-mortgaged, overpriced Barsky McMansion ostentatiously parking their pricey yet obviously leased vehicles in the drive way. Yes, we see you have money. So do we. Big whoop. Now, put your vehicles in the garage. Your new neighbors are unimpressed.

    The sign is within the town’s road easement. How about we teach our new neighbors some Princeton etiquette? Professor Mulvahey – where are you when we really need you? Get out there and steal that sign… Or, perhaps the Computer Tutor could drive over it?

    Or, where is our Council? Busy passing pointless and intellectually weak ordinances designed to make our mayor, who will apparently attend the opening of an envelope if will get her picture in the paper, look important. Weak and feckless is as weak and feckless does.

    Princeton is devolving to the lowest common denominator, with Lempert leading the charge. I say, we encourage the university to set up an endorsed fracking research project on her front lawn, you know, the one near the flood house for which the stupid, stupid council — all but Simon — thought it a good idea to throw money toward.

    Similarly, would someone tell my why Lance Liverman is persistently reelected? Is our limousine liberal white guilt that strong that we actually want this second-rate thinker to govern? He couldn’t pass a common sense test, much less understand the breathalyzer law. His logic was since we spend $30,000 on paper clips and tires, why not spend another $30,000 to buy off those scamming landlords (who, by the way, filed a tax reevaluation application to reduce to under $300k because… wait for it… the property floods). But, I digress. Wait, one more on Lance – so when he said to the press he was “praying” Kathy Monzo would apply for the job, he evidenced a pre-decision. He corrupted the process, signaled it appears to be an inside job, and no-one in the public or on the council called for his disqualification. He’s not smart enough to govern an 8th grade homeroom and he’s the driving force behind salary increases for the council? Princeton: what is wrong with that picture?

    Consolidation didn’t bring out our best; it’s energizing our worst. If I could undo consolidation I would. It was a mistake: it brought us a childish mayor with no vision but that of a self-promoting petulant mean girl, and, for the most part, the worst of the two preexisting councils. They should all get real jobs, except for Miller – who after the Nemeth/slate debacle should’ve had the decency, if not the courtesy, to retire. Do the math – he’s our own John McCain.

    The once shining city on a hill that was Princeton, is now run by a high-school clique, is being turned into knock-downs of classic houses rebuilt as oversized tenement-like McMansions by second rate builders, and is being occupied by those with no respect for pride of place or dignity of community.

  • Zhivago

    The Prof. designs computer models to assist in high-level decision making. Hmm…another elitist rube who knows what is good for everyone else, but can’t control himself. If the Prof. took the signs to harm the Tutor’s business, it was unnecessary. Because the Tutor has no business.

  • Stephen

    @PaulB

    I don’t think /anyone/ here cares who Mulvey is, or what he does for a living. We’re just people sick and tired of seeing JUNK CARS 4 CASH$$$ signs and their ilk ugly-up this otherwise bucolic community. Mulvey just did what many of us wanted to do anyway.

  • PaulB

    Are you all really defending this guy, and why? Because he’s a tenured professor? Taking one sign is a prank; ripping up 21 signs is the sign of a seriously disturbed individual. How about a sentence of 21 days community service cleaning streets of actual debris?

  • Princetonian

    The computer tutor Ted has cut off numerous people and drives like a complete maniac. I see him often and have witnessed him making illegal turns in the middle of the road and having apparent road rage for all other drivers. It is pretty stupid of him to act like this when there are signs advertising his name and number all over his car. I can see how someone could easily get mad at him and want to destroy his business.

    It is obvious why the professor took the signs no matter what he says. He just should have been smarter and gotten rid of the signs instead of keeping them in his garage! That being said, why would the professor focus so much time and effort on something like this at all? Horodynsky will eventually bury himself with his aggressive driving and very odd personality

  • Dill Harris

    Everyone involved in this escapade — the tutor and the professor — are super creepy.

    Paraphrasing Mercutio from The Bard’s “Romeo and Juliet,” a pox on both their houses.

    See: Romeo And Juliet Act 3, scene 1.

    Further the affiant sayeth naught.

  • Princeton driver

    This computer tutor guy cursed at me to my 3 year old child after he cut me off for a parking spot and did the same thing to a friend. I would watch out for him.

  • Roger

    Oh God! The same person did cut ME off too when I was driving in the area (On Elm road where there is a 25 mile zone) and the look he gave me for FOLLOWING the speed limit! The computer tutor guy is arrogant. I remember it because I remember the sticker on the car.

  • Stephen

    I sympathize with him. These computer tutor (what is this, 1995?) signs are singularly annoying. Invest in some real advertising if you want to be taken seriously, Horodynsky.

  • Blake

    If he truly felt the signs were trash, why did he only take signs from one business, leaving dozens of other signs on public property which are illegal and eyesores? Take a drive down Elm to Stockton and there are easily a dozen signs on public property between Roseland and Lovers Lane, yet these signs, legally placed on private property, are trash, and being “trash” he decided to keep them. Mulvey obviously has mental problems and should not be in contact with students at the University.

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