The brother of the Democratic candidate for Fairfax County sheriff was charged Thursday with petit larceny for allegedly stealing two of the Republican candidate’s signs outside a Vienna restaurant, Vienna police said.
Erik M. Kleiner, 48, is the brother of Fairfax Sheriff’s Capt. Stacey Kincaid, the Democratic candidate for sheriff in a special election being held next week to replace retired Sheriff Stan G. Barry. Kleiner was charged in a warrant sworn out by Bryan A. Wolfe, a retired Fairfax City officer and the Republican candidate for sheriff, police said. Kleiner had not been served or arrested as of Thursday afternoon, Vienna Officer Gary Lose said.
Wolfe said he learned recently from employees of Joe’s Place Pizza and Pasta on Maple Avenue in downtown Vienna that his campaign signs had been repeatedly removed from in front of the restaurant. Wolfe said he filed a complaint with Vienna police and then discussed it with Kleiner outside a candidate forum in Falls Church on Wednesday night, where he said Kleiner acknowledged taking the signs but said he would not return them.
Vienna police investigated, and Wolfe said that Detective Art Sylmar accompanied him to the Fairfax magistrate’s office on Thursday afternoon and informed the magistrate that he had found two of Wolfe’s signs in Kleiner’s car. Wolfe and Lose both said that the magistrate then issued a misdemeanor summons against Kleiner. Lose said police were continuing to investigate. Petit larceny is a class 1 misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $2,500 fine, though that is rarely imposed in such cases.
Kleiner said in an e-mail Thursday afternoon, “This situation is incredibly ridiculous and a complete waste of time.” He said he “was certain I had permission” to remove Wolfe’s signs, “but if I misunderstood, it is my fault. I discussed this with Mr. Wolfe last night, we shook hands and he said he accepted my explanation.”
Kincaid said in an e-mail: “Most of us have family members who sometimes do things that we don’t approve of. My younger brother did this without my knowledge or approval. I don’t condone vandalism or theft.”
Wolfe has been saying for weeks that his signs have been stolen and his car and home property vandalized since he entered the sheriff’s race in August. Kleiner was not charged with vandalism. “Captain Kincaid and her supporters are bullying my entire family and volunteers,” Wolfe said Thursday. “I’ve had volunteers drop out because they’ve seen the damage to my car and signs, they are intimidated. This stuff happens in the Wild West or the South, I kinda thought it wouldn’t happen in this race.”