On January 28, Clovis Police arrested City Council candidate Herman Nagra for stealing campaign signs from other candidates.
A total of 42 signs valued at $1,200 were stolen resulting in his arrest for felony grand theft and being booked into Fresno County Jail.
Nagra is a business owner in Clovis, who is running for a seat on Clovis City Council in the upcoming March municipal elections.
He reached out to the Clovis Roundup in order to tell his side of the story and to let Clovis residents know his arrest was misconstrued.
According to Nagra, he did not steal the signs but “removed” them.
“Every day is crucial. Every day they are getting their ad out there, unfairly,” said Nagra.
Nagra explained that the signs were placed illegally. He said he could understand if the candidate had permission from a tenant or property owner to place their signs on their property. But that was not the case according to Nagra.
Nagra took it upon himself to remove the signs from multiple locations with the help of a friend.
Nagra and his friend were captured on video surveillance in Old Town Clovis, removing a sign. A majority of the signs removed were Councilmember Vong Mouanoutoua’s, who is running for re-election. Diane Pearce, another candidate, had her signs removed as well.
The video would eventually lead Clovis PD to the arrest of Nagra at his home. He defended his actions stating this was not stealing because he was not making a profit.
“We took it as a theft case. A judge signed a search warrant for his house, which means the judge also agreed on the theft,” said Lieutenant Jim Munro, Clovis Police Department.
At the time of the arrest, Nagra described loud banging at the front door of his home. When he answered the door, 20 Clovis PD officers in camo ballistic vest and masks, barged in with assault rifles.
Lt. Munro clarified this was not a SWAT operation.
Munro stated this is standard procedure when serving a search warrant for stolen property or for a homicide suspect. Approximately 10 detectives were present, and two rifles were deployed.
“It is an experience I should not have gone through, I should not have been desensitized,” said Nagra, “What could have been peacekeeping and civil would have been the police chief giving me a call and resolution would have been made in a civil matter.”
Nagra stated the situation could have been handled better by not being paraded in his neighborhood when he was arrested.
“Unfortunately, that’s not the way police work. In my 23-year career, never have I once called a person to ask for stolen property back. Typically the answer is ‘no,’ and that’s the end of it,” said Lt. Munro.
Nagra believes his arrest was politically motivated.
“This response by the Clovis Police Department is the same for anybody…This was not a crazy in-depth hard investigation. It was easy. All we had to do was watch a video to where the signs were stolen,” said Lt. Munro.
The same day Nagra was arrested, Assistant City Manager John Holt sent an email to candidates regarding complaints about campaign signs. The email detailed the general rule of thumb of campaign sign placement, reminding them not to improperly place signs on private property without permission.
“Most people run because their motivations are to run for a political career. They aren’t running to make the city better,” said Nagra.
Nagra is still in the race despite the arrest. He believes he has a standing chance being the only business owner and his experience will benefit the city.
Election day for the Clovis City Council is March 2.