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Complaints filed over signs, alleged threat
BY JOYCE RUSSELL Times Staff Writer
PORTAGE -- A political sign, secret videotaping and a
confrontation between political opponents Wednesday left one side filing police
complaints and the other seeking legal counsel on possible harassment charges.
The latest round in the battle between cable television host and City Council
candidate Gordon Bloyer and former Mayor and council candidate Sammie Maletta
began early Wednesday morning. Bloyer and Jim Wright, who filed complaints last
week with the Porter County Election Board against Maletta, secretly taped
Maletta removing a Bloyer campaign sign from an easement adjacent to Maletta's
It ended shortly afterward when Maletta confronted Wright in a
small parking lot on Willowcreek Road near the Prairie Duneland Trail. Wright
contends the heated argument ended with Maletta threatening to shoot him. "That
is a total absolute lie, an absolute fabrication," Maletta said about the
alleged threat. He said this is the latest incident in Bloyer's attempts to
harass him. Bloyer is running in the 1st District, and the Malettas live in the
4th District. Maletta said Bloyer would have no reason to place the sign in
front of his home other than to harass him.
Bloyer said he placed his sign in an easement next to Maletta's home Tuesday
night. He and Wright returned Wednesday morning to see if they could videotape
Maletta "stealing the sign," which, Bloyer says, is a criminal offense. Bloyer
said his sign was placed adjacent to a Maletta sign, which he believed was also
on an easement. City ordinance prohibits any type of sign from being placed on a
city easement. "It's against city ordinance, but they don't generally hassle
people," Bloyer said Maletta said he saw the sign about 7 a.m. Wednesday. When
he left for work, he removed the sign and placed it in his garage.
The Maletta property is the last home on a dead-end street. His property is
adjacent to a large city easement that the Malettas maintain. Maletta contends
his sign was on his own property. "I went out, took the sign out and put it into
the garage. I was going to work and saw a gray van. I followed them to the
parking lot at Willowcreek Road," Maletta recounted. That's where both he and
Wright admit to having an argument over election laws, the signs, Wright's
letter to the editor in that day's newspaper and other issues. "I knew when he
pulled up there I would get his hot-blooded temper," Wright said. They differ on
how the argument ended. "He said to me 'keep out of my way, off my property or
I'll get my .38 and shoot you,' " Wright said. "I told him 'you come on my
property again and we'll see,' " Maletta said. Wright filed a complaint with
Portage police over the alleged threat, and Bloyer filed a complaint with police
over the stolen sign. Portage Police Chief Cliff Burch confirmed both Bloyer and
Wright filed complaints. "They'll receive no special treatment. They'll be run
through the normal procedure," Burch said. Because of the nature of the
complaints, the department most likely will turn them over to the Porter County
prosecutor's office for review to determine whether charges would be filed, he
added. "Something of this nature, an independent body needs to look at it,"
Burch said. Maletta said he was questioned by police Wednesday afternoon. "The
sign was there strictly for harassment. They baited me. This guy is outrageous,"
Maletta said. He said he is contacting his own attorney about possible
Joyce Russell can be reached at
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