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Complaints filed over signs, alleged threat

BY JOYCE RUSSELL Times Staff Writer

Sammy takes the sign on tape.


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 home.

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 harassment charges.

Joyce Russell can be reached at or (219) 762-4334.

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