ROSELLE PARK, NJ - In a late night undercover operation conducted by the Roselle Park Police Department on Saturday night, Roselle Park mayoral candidate and current 5th Ward Councilman Michael Yakubov was arrested and charged with theft and criminal mischief for stealing lawn signs of his Democratic opponents.
According to Roselle Park Police Chief Paul W. Morrison, “The councilman was released without bail and has a municipal court date pending.”
An undercover operation was conducted because of numerous reports of lawn signs being stolen. Multiple sources have told TAP into Roselle/Roselle Park that when police approached Yakubov, who was wearing a gray hoodie, he fled and officers followed him to his home where he was arrested.
When reached today by telephone, Yakubov told TAP into Roselle/Roselle Park to refer to a statement on his website, which reads, in part, as follows:
"Late Saturday night, the Roselle Park Police Department misused precious police resources and taxpayer funds in conducting a lawn sign “sting” operation which improperly led to the detention and mugshot of Councilman Mike Yakubov."
The website also states, "No unauthorized signs were placed at my neighbor’s home. Specifically, the Hokanson campaign has been marked by dirty tricks. It’s time to address the issues confronting Roselle Park and stop distracting voters."
“This waste of police resources was clearly manipulated by mayoral candidate and ex-police officer Carl Hokanson,” said Betty Cairney, vice-chair of the Roselle Park Republican Party.
“Nothing in this alleged incident goes to the qualifications, record and integrity of mayoral candidate Mike Yakubov who has served the residents of Roselle Park with distinction for the past nine years,” she continued.
Council-At-Large and Roselle Park mayoral candidate Hokanson said, “It is an ongoing investigation, so I cannot comment at this time.”
Roselle Park Democratic Chairman Dan Petroski told TAP into Roselle/Roselle Park that the committee has had 252 signs stolen in just three weeks. “In the first five days we had to replace 150 signs.” said Petroski. He said the cost to replace these signs has been approximately $2100.00.
Petroski said, "[Yakubov] got caught red-handed taking our signs. You just can’t do what he did, the police saw him taking the sign. He is quick to blame others for his actions and he should take responsibility for them.”
The Roselle Park mayoral debate is scheduled to take place on Wednesday night, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. in Borough Hall. At this time, both candidates have stated that they will be attending.
Updates to this story will be posted as further information is received.