By Stan Lynch
The Burbank City Attorney filed charges this morning in yet another case involving the theft of election campaign signs. Sevada Isayan, 26, of Burbank; and Vahe Assarian, 25, of Glendale, were both charged with petty theft, a misdemeanor.
The criminal filings are a result of an incident that occurred on March 12. Police stopped two men in a vehicle in the 900 block of E. Tujunga Ave., around 10 p.m. Inside the vehicle officers found several campaign signs. Reportedly, all but one of the signs was for Burbank School Board candidate Char Tabet.
The suspects allegedly told officers that they were just “recycling” old campaign signs after the February 26, primary election. However Tabet is still a candidate in the April 9, run-off election. Although a report was taken at the time the pair were stopped by police, they were not arrested.
An investigation was conducted by the Burbank Police Department, and the case referred to the City Attorney’s Office to determine if charges would be filed. According to Senior Assistant City Attorney Denny Wei, it takes time for the case to be evaluated and a determination on whether it would be referred for prosecution.
All of the candidates running for the two open seats on the Burbank Board of Education were contacted, including former candidate Armond Aghakhanian, who is not in the run-off election. Each of the candidates, Char Tabet, Steve Ferguson, David Dobson, and Larry Applebaum, stated that the two men accused of taking the signs are not connected to their campaigns. Aghakhanian also stated that the two men were not part of his former campaign. A volunteer on Ferguson’s campaign, Scott Trinidad, was caught on video tape taking two Tabet signs from in front of a business on Magnolia Blvd. on February 11. He entered a plea of no contest to petty theft of property valued at less than $50, an infraction. He was fined $200 in addition to being accessed $750 in penalties.
Although the two suspects do not have any apparent links to the candidates, they are connected to the campaign of Glendale Board of Education member Greg Krikorian. Krikorian was just elected to a fourth term on the Glendale School Board on April 2. His office said the two men had been volunteers on Krikorian’s campaign.
When asked why she was apparently the target of sign thefts, which she compared to “being on the level of high school pranks,” candidate Tabet said, “Perhaps they picked me because I’m the biggest threat to the other candidates,” adding, “Of the non-incumbents I have the most experience and a record of finishing what I start.”
Isayan and Assarian are scheduled to appear in the Burbank Superior Court on April 25. The maximum penalty for violating section 484 of the California Penal Code is 6 months in jail, and a $1,000 fine. When state mandated penalties are added in, that amount could increase to around $4,000, according to Wei.