Eyman’s attorneys: Not paying for $70 chair was inadvertent

A city prosecutor deemed it a crime and has cited the well-known ballot-initiative promoter for theft.

LACEY — Tim Eyman’s lawyers say it was an accident that he didn’t pay for the $70 chair he’s seen on surveillance video rolling out the front door of an Office Depot store.

And they tried to make things right.

The city prosecutor says it was a crime and has cited Eyman, 53, with theft in the third degree, a gross misdemeanor with a potential punishment of 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. The complaint was filed Saturday. No court date has been set.

On Tuesday, Eyman’s attorneys offered an explanation and provided a statement from Eyman in which the professional initiative promoter vigorously proclaimed his innocence.

“I did not … walk into an Office Depot in Lacey wearing a bright red ‘Let The Voters Decide’ t-shirt, smile for the cameras, and steal a $70 chair just moments before spending $300 on 2 printers and after getting some life changing good news,” Eyman wrote. “The reason that doesn’t make any sense is because it doesn’t make any sense. It’s ridiculous, it’s insane, it’s completely unbelievable.

“As the video shows, I went back into the store to pay for it,” his statement continued. “That’s right, rather than hopping in my car for a daring get away after my successful bank heist, I walked back into the store and inserted my debit card into the chip reader (Jesse James I’m not).”

In their statement, attorneys Dan Gerl and Casey Arbenz said they contacted store officials “in an effort to return the chair and/or pay for it, as its removal without payment was accidental. We also reached out to the City of Lacey to explain the circumstances of the chair’s accidental removal.”

Surveillance video released by the Lacey Police Department clearly shows Eyman pushing the chair out the front door from the vestibule, where it was on display. It happened around 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13.

In a police report, the investigating officer wrote that Eyman came to the office supply store to exchange a printer, purchased at a different store, for two other printers. A clerk who helped Eyman told police that he was busy for a time helping another customer when Eyman left the store with the chair.

Eyman is seen on the video returning to the store. The report says he completed the transaction involving the two printers and paid for a print job, and the clerk used a dolly to take the printers to Eyman’s car.

“When we got to his vehicle … he insisted I leave the printers on the ground next to his vehicle because he needed to rearrange a few things,” the clerk said in a written statement to police. “I gave him my Office Depot business card and went back inside.”

According to the report, the store “provided physical receipts of the printer exchange and a suspended receipt for the value of the chair which were scanned into evidence.” The “suspended receipt” is time-stamped roughly two-and-a-half hours after the printer transaction.

Eyman, who has been battling the state of Washington over alleged campaign-finance violations and recently filed for bankruptcy, is now promoting a measure on the November ballot, Initiative 976, which would reduce vehicle license renewal fees to $30, among other changes.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos

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