ELECTION 2014: Osoyoos mayor admits sign incident factored into decision to retire

Stu Wells has confirmed apology letter part of "diversion process" after police informed about his involvement with theft of protest sign

Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells

Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells

Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells confirmed Friday that the expected controversy about his role in the theft of a sign factored into his decision to drop out of the upcoming municipal election.

Wells has admitted that in June 2013, he and his wife were caught on surveillance video taking a protest sign from a disgruntled homeowner at Regal Ridge near Osoyoos.

The homeowner, Oliver Betz, was reportedly upset about a lack of utility services at the development, and this week sent some local media, not including the Western News, a photo from the surveillance video and an apology letter he received from Wells.

Wells  confirmed the story.

“About a year and a half ago, the incident did happen. There was charges laid. It went though the police, legal and judicial process. I met my conditions and sent the letter of apology,” he told the Western News.

“The fact Mr. Betz doesn’t want to accept it, that’s now on his side of the plate.”

Wells, who didn’t what say compelled him to take the sign but called it an act of “stupidity,” said the case went through a “very rigorous” police investigation, and RCMP and Crown eventually put it into “a diversion process.”

“I didn’t even have a lawyer,” he said.

It was only a week ago that Wells made headlines when he dropped out of the Osoyoos mayoral race within hours of the nomination deadline but earlier tipped off Coun. Sue McKortoff, who then decided to seek the top job.

He now admits the pending release of information related to the sign incident was a factor in his decision to drop out.

“It affected my life,” said Wells. “Certainly that would have some bearing on it.”

Betz couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Friday.