Frederick County man accused of stealing political billboard charged with felony
A Frederick County man has been charged with a felony after he allegedly stole the vinyl cover from a billboard on Millwood Pike (U.S. 50) that displayed a message aimed at local politics.
The daytime theft, which was captured on a trail camera installed by the person who paid for the billboard, occurred on Thursday, according to law enforcement officials. Christopher Maher Sr., 58, was arrested Saturday and charged with grand larceny, Frederick County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Warren Gosnell confirmed.
The billboard, located in the county's Shawnee Magisterial District, bore the slogan: "Any Vote Against A Ludwig Is A Vote For Frederick County." Below that it said, "Say No To A Ludwig Campaign," an apparent reference to Frederick County Board of Supervisors Shawnee District representative Josh Ludwig, a conservative Republican, who in January launched a campaign to become chairman of the panel ahead of this November's general election.
"The suspected larceny took place Thursday. The arrest was made based on the collection of video evidence. The victim has set up a trail cam to keep an eye on the sign," Gosnell said.
Trail camera footage also allegedly shows a juvenile removing 20 smaller political signs near the billboard on the same day as the grand larceny, according to Gosnell.
"As the investigation progressed, Mr. Maher elected not to answer any further questions, so we weren't able to identify the juvenile," Gosnell said.
The smaller signs also said, "A vote against a Ludwig is a vote for Frederick County." Signs with the same message have appeared at Board of Supervisors meetings recently. A truck, parked outside the board room of the County Administration Building on North Kent Street, bore a banner with the same slogan before several meetings as well.
Jennifer Adams, a county resident and a constituent of Ludwig's, said she paid $4,900 for the political sign. She said it is insured, so it will be reinstalled. She maintains it was removed less than 24 hours after it went up.
Time-stamped images from the trail camera shared by Adams with The Winchester Star show a man standing next to the billboard in broad daylight holding what appears to be a knife in his hand at 9:16 a.m. on April 13. A white pickup truck is in the background. An image a short time later shows the political sign gone from the billboard.
A fake trail camera near the sign also was stolen the same day, Adams said — the suspect was apparently unaware that the actual camera lurked nearby. The straps that were sliced to steal the sign face were owned by the billboard company that installed it, she added.
Asked what prompted her to place the billboard, Adams said, "I don't feel like Josh Ludwig has done anything for my particular district. I don't like his politics when it comes to the schools: the audits, demanding all of this information. Think about who you are electing this year — that is the point behind it."
Reached for comment, Ludwig said he has heard some details about the billboard incident. He declined to comment on Adams' comments about his politics.
"I only found out about it after the fact. People told me about it of course. It's unfortunate," he said about the theft. "People often mess with campaign signs, but billboards is taking it to a new level."
The Nov. 7 election is a consequential one for county voters, with four of seven seats on the Board of Supervisors up for election.
Ludwig's current term as Shawnee supervisor ends Dec. 31 2025. He was first elected to the board in November of 2021. "It's time to finish the job and make Frederick County conservative again," states a post on the Friends of Josh Ludwig Facebook page related to his candidacy for board chairman.
Adams said she hasn't had any dealings with the man charged with stealing the billboard.
According to Adams, her friends who were keeping an eye on the billboard location after she learned about the theft saw a white truck that matched the description of the vehicle driven by the individual who Adams believed had boosted the sign. The friends followed the truck and confronted the driver, later identified as Maher, in the Golden Corral parking lot nearby and waited for law enforcement to arrive. Adams drove to Golden Corral a short time later.
"I've never talked to this guy. I don't know who he is. If you had a problem with the billboard, you could have sent me an email," Adams said, referring to the email that appears on the political sign. "I did the billboard because every time I put signs out, they were stolen. I put a billboard up thinking you can't steal a billboard. Boy, was I wrong."
— Contact Cormac Dodd at [email protected]
The Democrat groomer party sure getting desperate.
Regardless of party affiliation if indeed this person stole this sign he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. When the commonwealth attorney makes over $230,000 per year there is no reason why he can't prosecute each and every case to the fullest extent of the law. The county attorney makes over $200,000 per year and there is no reason why he too can't prosecute each and every case to the fullest extent of the law. We don't need plea deals and empty promises. Crime only is allowed to continue when there are no real consequences to people's actions and it's the innocent law abiding citizens who suffer. I keep hearing about precedent and the precedent of Frederick county seems to be plea deal if you can even get it to court. Several times the commonwealth and/or city attorney won't even prosecute even though it's within their power to do so and they have more than enough evidence to get a conviction. The time to being reactive is long past. It's time to be proactive. If they are serious about crime in our community then it's up to them and the officers sworn to uphold the law to start doing just that. Uphold the law. People shouldn't get special treatment because of "who" they are or because of "who" they know. There are people in our community who are lifelong criminals, but have no "record" because they were never held accountable for their crimes.
Couldn't he also be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor? What a despicable thing for a grown man to do and then to involve a young person makes it even worse.
Aug 3/22 WStar article," Area residents among Youngkin administration appointments" "Gov. Glenn Youngkin has announced the following additional key administration appointments: Motor Vehicles Dealer Board: Chris Maher, of Winchester, president of Car Credit Nation."
The MVDB is Comprised of 18 members representing the Franchise Dealers, Independent Dealers and Consumers. The Board is in charge of Administering the Laws and Regulations to the Motor Vehicle Dealers of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Chris Maher, if found guilty, should resign his MVDB Board position. Administering the law to others if found guilty of a Felony himself, shouldn't sit well with law abiding citizens or our Governor. How problematic that a youth was also involved. Was a youth taught that if you don't agree politically with someone, that committing a felony is justified? 1st amendment rights for some but not for others?
The modern Republican Party in action. Lawless, clueless, and grooming their kids to be the same.
[beam] That's quite the delusional take you have there! Last time I checked it was the Democrats that were in favor of open borders, defunding the police, politicizing our justice system, grooming children and mutilating their genitals.
As usual Catherine, you nailed it!
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