Valente gets community service for sign thefts
By Lisa Brody
Don Valente, 2020 Republican candidate for Bloomfield Township Trustee, received a sentence of eight months probation, must perform 25 hours of community service, pay court costs, and cannot appear at any Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees meetings, following sentencing at 48th District Court on December 27, 2021, as part of a plea deal in a case involving theft of political signs in 2020.
On December 2, Valente had agreed to a plea deal for disorderly conduct, replacing the original charge of larceny of campaign sign theft for property less than $200.
Judge Kimberly Small at 48th District Court sentenced Valente to the term of eight months probation, with 90 days to be held in abeyance; he must pay $1,170 in costs; cannot have any contact with any of the victims of the original alleged sign thefts; and he is not to appear at any township board meetings.
In addition, his case has been turned over to the state bar's Attorney Grievance Committee.
Valente, a retired attorney, had been accused of stealing political signs during the 2020 primary election. The crime is a misdemeanor, punishable by 93 days in jail and/or $500, or three times the value of the property stolen, whichever is greater. The signs stolen were for township candidates Bloomfield Township Supervisor Leo Savoie, Brian Kepes, trustees Neal Barnett and Michael Schostak and clerk candidate Thomas Smyly. Kepes, Barnett and Schostak all won their primary and general elections. Township police records indicate that about three dozen signs were found outside the garage on Valente's property.
A complaint was initially filed with the Bloomfield Township Police Department by a citizen who recognized Valente and saw him taking campaign signs for Savoie and Kepes in the vicinity of Long Lake and Telegraph. The case was eventually turned over to the county sheriff's office due to possible conflict of interest because one of the candidates was a township police officer.