Woodstock Library board President Jeff Collins will face no legal repercussions for taking anti-library-bond signs as long as he is on his best behavior for the next six months.
On May 25, Woodstock Town Judge Jason Lesko granted an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal, or ACD, for the misdemeanors of petit larceny and possession of stolen property. Lesko thanked the defense and prosecution for agreeing with an outcome that is acceptable to both parties.
With an ACD, the charges will be dismissed if Collins refrains from any criminal activity for the next six months and he performs 16 hours of community service for a nonprofit organization as imposed by Lesko. Collins must submit a description of the community service and the organization for court approval by June 15.
An outpouring of support and Collins’ public apology is what made the difference, said Collins’ attorney, Michael Pollok, as a relieved Collins stood outside the courtroom. Several library trustees stood with him after attending the proceedings to show their support.
“There were so many letters from the community, it swayed the prosecution,” Pollok said.
Collins had offered to resign as president after his May 7 arrest, but the library Board of Trustees voted unanimously at its May 19 meeting to reject it. He will continue to serve as president.
Collins was captured on a trail camera on May 6 removing a sign from the corner of Zena and Rowe roads in the heat of a contentious library bond campaign. Police found other signs when they went to Collins’ home to question him on May 7.
“On Friday, May 6th, I made a mistake. In a moment of bad judgment, I removed a sign that is part of the disinformation campaign being waged by opponents of the library bond,” Collins said in a statement the following day.
Collins said he only removed signs he considered libelous because they contained the phrase “Don’t Buy a Toxic Building Site.”
Former lens maker Model Optics dumped chemicals on the property the Library wants to buy, but testing commissioned by the Library shows levels below thresholds acceptable for household use. The Woodstock Environmental Commission concurs with the latest testing and town Water and Sewer Superintendent Larry Allen said the site poses no danger to the nearby town water supply.
Woodstockers approved a $3.95 million bond by a vote of 845-500 to purchase the former Miller/Howard Investment headquarters at 10 Dixon Avenue, renovate it and move the library there. A closing of the purchase is scheduled for June 29.