DURHAM: Magistrate accused of removing political sign under fire - WRBL

Durham magistrate accused of removing political sign under fire

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Michael Lynch posted signs saying "Do Not Elect Michael D. Andrews for Sheriff. I Believe He Is A Criminal and Corrupt" in front of the Durham County courthouse. Michael Lynch posted signs saying "Do Not Elect Michael D. Andrews for Sheriff. I Believe He Is A Criminal and Corrupt" in front of the Durham County courthouse.
DURHAM, N.C. -

A Durham magistrate is on the other side of the law after he was charged with removing a sign in front of the courthouse.

The signs in question say "Do Not Elect Michael D. Andrews for Sheriff. I Believe He Is A Criminal and Corrupt” and were posted by Michael Lynch.

In 2012, Lynch reported that a woman stole a number of items from him, including a small, portable safe he said contained thousands of dollars in cash and other small valuables. A sheriff’s office spokesman said the agency does not consider the woman a suspect.

The Durham County Sheriff's Office issued a statement saying, “He has repeatedly sought to convince sheriff's investigators that there is only one possible suspect in the theft of Mr. Lynch's property. Unfortunately the evidence developed to date does not support Mr. Lynch's theory."

The statement said Lynch was trying to get Sheriff Michael Andrews to use "the resources of his office against a particular person whom Mr. Lynch believes has committed a crime."

In retaliation, Lynch posted signs in late March, but a few days later, he noticed several of his signs were no longer where he put them.

Last week, police issued a citation against magistrate Steven Storch charging him with pulling a sign down. Storch, who is running in November for district court judge, declined to speak on camera, but neither admitted nor denied taking the signs.

"It's frivolous and without legal basis, and that will be shown," Storch said.

While Storch said he cannot talk about the details of the charge, he said he does not agree with Lynch posting the signs against the sheriff.

But Lynch said he went through all the steps to put the signs in front of the courthouse legally and that no one should have taken them.

"I was very disappointed," Lynch said. "Here's a guy that took an oath to stand up for justice right here at this justice center and just desecrated everything that justice stands for. The people here -- the employees -- he's let everybody down."

Lynch has posted new signs taking aim at Storch.

Storch said he feels like he's in good company after Lynch has publicly criticized the sheriff and the district attorney. Lynch previously tried to have District Attorney Leon Stanback removed from office.

"I feel I'm in good company with them," Storch said. "It's a strange sort of honor."

Storch's court date is set for July 21.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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