Sigman gets probation in campaign sign theft case

COVINGTON -- Former mayoral candidate Bobby Sigman was sentenced to seven years probation and ordered to pay $2,000 in fines on charges stemming from his arrest for stealing campaign signs during campaign season last fall.

The sentence, handed down in Newton County Superior Court on Thursday, was part of a negotiated plea deal. Sigman pleaded guilty to making false statements in a matter within a political subdivision, a felony, and to two counts of misdemeanor theft by taking.

"As part of the negotiated plea he is not permitted to run for or hold elected or appointed office while under sentence," said Senior Assistant District Attorney Melanie Bell.

Sigman is being treated as a first offender, meaning that if he completes his sentence successfully, he will not be a convicted felon. He received first offender status because he has no prior felonies and because he pleaded guilty at his arraignment, Bell said. Sigman issued an apology following his sentencing, she said.

Reached via phone on Friday, Sigman said, "I'm sorry it happened and I'm glad it's over with. I told the judge I apologized to the court and to Mr. Johnston and the people of Covington. I just want to move ahead and get it behind me so my family and I can maybe live peaceful the rest of our lives ... It was just a bad, unfortunate mistake. I made a bad judgement. I got caught in a trap and didn't know what to do. I didn't do anybody any bodily harm. I did myself more harm than anybody. I'm just so grateful my family stood by me and my friends stood by me. It's a dead issue now. It's over with, it's in the past, and I'd already made up my mind never to run for political office again, so I'm through. After all the good things I've done, and I think I've done some good, it's unfortunate I had to mess it up at the end. "

Sigman was arrested in October 2011 for allegedly stealing campaign signs of his opponent, current Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston. Initially, Sigman denied the charges against him and accused police of planting the evidence.

A few days later, Covington Police released an undercover video showing Sigman meeting an unidentified man at a Washington Street service station. The man, who was wearing a police video and audio device, got into Sigman's vehicle and directed him to a wooded area where approximately 50 Ronnie Johnston campaign signs were stashed.

Sigman showed no surprise that the individual had collected the signs, but instead pointed out a Johnston sign they passed en route, telling the man, "There's a dollar you missed."

When it came time to pay the individual for the signs, Sigman offered him a $50 bill, but the man argued with him, saying Sigman had promised him $2 per sign. Sigman told him he only agreed to pay $1.

Following the release of the video, Sigman announced he would drop out of the mayor's race but several days later, he retracted that statement. Johnston beat Sigman in the November election by 1,032 votes to Sigman's 282.