Sign stealing, name calling in Sheriff's race

The players are a fired deputy challenging his old boss, a political yard sign yanked up, and a sheriff doing a little name calling.

Newschannel 15 received a tip Wednesday afternoon that someone had stolen one of Sheriff Mark Richardson's political signs.

According to Sheriff Richardson one of his detectives spotted Dallas Platt taking the top off a "Richardson For Sheriff" sign and replacing it with one of Dewayne Tennie's signs.

The sign was on the corner of Smith Street and Highway 76 in Mullins, the same block as Tennie's campaign headquarters.

Tennie was fired from the sheriff's department in January and is now running against Richardson.

The detective told Platt the sign was on state property and that Platt proceeded to identify himself as Dewayne Tennie. The detective knew that wasn't true and told the suspect he knew Tennie well. According to the incident report, Platt tucked the sign under his arm and made his way toward the campaign office. The detective snapped a picture of Platt with the sign.

Richardson said the sign was on the highway right-of-way, but the Tennie campaign says it was not.

"If my sign was on private property, which I know it was not, he should have contacted me to come remove it," Richardson said.

Once the Tennie campaign realized the sheriff's office had a picture of Platt, the campaign's manager called the sheriff, and things became a little heated. The campaign manager, Franklin Briggs, told Newschannel 15 that Sheriff Richardson made a reference to "thugs" during the phone call.

Newschannel 15 asked Richardson about the conversation:

Newschannel 15's Graeme Moore: "Was thug mentioned?"

Richardson: "Yes, yes it was."

Graeme: "In what context?"

Richardson: "I just said I didn't want these so-called thugs stealing my signs. That's exactly what I said."

Graeme: "Do you think that's appropriate?"

Richardson: "Probably not."

Sheriff Richardson said he wasn't calling anyone in particular a thug and was more referring to thuggish behavior. He also said he doesn't think Tennie was involved in the theft of his sign, nor does he think he had any knowledge of it.

Both Richardson and Tennie said they want to run a clean, fair campaign and election and hope this sort of thing doesn't happen again.

As for Platt, however, Richardson said there's a strong possibility that misdemeanor charges will be filed against him.