Campaigning commissioner arrested in McCook
October 31, 2010 (McCOOK, Ill.) (WLS) -- Republican Commissioner Tony Peraica was arrested over the weekend in southwest suburban McCook and charged with damaging yard signs that support his opponent in Tuesday's election.
Signs in the area make it clear: there's a race between Peraica, the incumbent, and Jeff Tobolski, the mayor of McCook who wants Peraica's job.
One of the Tobolski signs hung from a pole outside a McCook restaurant, but Saturday night, a man with a pole ripped it apart and pulled it down.
Destroying political opposition signs has long been a part of campaign shenanigans, but police say the man who destroyed that particular sign was Peraica himself.
Yes, police in McCook arrested the county commissioner, who smiled for his mug shot taken during a four-hour early morning stay in the McCook police station. He was charged with misdemeanor criminal damage to property, released on an I-bond, and held a news conference Sunday afternoon.
"I am here to talk about one of the most outrageous abuses of police authority that I have seen, even by Cook County standards," Peraica said at news conference Sunday afternoon.
Peraica says he was out Saturday night with a campaign worker delivering his own signs in a white van and that the McCook police claim is absurd because he never got out of the van. But police say, yes, he did, and they say they have a witness.
"The witness don't know who Tony Peraica is, never saw him before in his life, just pointed at him [and said] 'He's the guy I saw get out of the van,'" said McCook Police Chief Frank Wolfe.
"Nothing but political retaliation by a desperate candidate in a crooked town, who is using and abusing police authority because he can, to try to exact political revenge against myself, as his opponent," Peraica said.
Peraica says he will be moving to have the misdemeanor charge dismissed. He is due to apear in court at November 22 in Bridgeview.
"The story here is he got caught breaking the law and got arrested," Tobolski said, also calling Peraica a "100-percent" liar.
Police say Peraica was dressed Saturday night in a black jacket and black pants with a black ball cap, prompting the mayor to call him 'Rambo.'
"He's caught doing it, and he has black garb on. What is that all about?" Tobolski said.
All this occurred in a town of 250 residents, where the race is so big, it's got king-sized billboards. But they're up too high for anyone to tear down.
local, paul meincke
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