PENINSULA, Ohio – A Peninsula Village councilman is charged with misdemeanor criminal damaging for the removal of a surveillance camera from council chambers.
Councilman Michael Matusz, 44, “did cause damage to the video recording system by cutting the wires while removing the camera and mic," according to a criminal complaint signed by Peninsula Mayor Doug Mayer and filed in Stow Municipal Court on Thursday.
An attorney for Matusz denied any wrongdoing.
The camera was installed earlier this year and recorded a March incident in which the wife of a resigning councilman slapped the hand of former Village Solicitor Constance Hesske following a council meeting, leading to an assault charge. Wendy Anderson pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct.
During a council meeting on Sept. 12, Matusz made a motion to remove the camera, citing the fact that council was not consulted before village administrators installed it and saying it served “no useful purpose.” After a heated debate between Matusz and Mayer, council voted 3-1 to remove the camera, but it did not specify how or when it would take place.
According to the complaint, Matusz took matters into his own hands, removing the camera on Sept. 14.
Peninsula officials said the Summit County Sheriff’s Office completed an outside investigation and recommended the criminal damaging charge.
Matusz declined comment, but attorney Mike Kaplan called the charge “mind boggling.” He said Matusz is not guilty of any charge and simply disconnected the camera after the council vote, giving it to police.
Matusz is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 6.