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Published: Saturday, 4/27/2002

VanLandingham pleads not guilty to obstruction

City Council hopeful Rick VanLandingham pleaded not guilty yesterday in Toledo Municipal Court to a charge of obstructing official business stemming from an incident Tuesday during which police and other city officials removed a camper parked on his property at 1312 Paxton St.

City personnel contend they had the right to remove Mr. VanLandingham's camper because it was a nuisance. Mr. VanLandingham, an environmentalist and District 4 council candidate in the May 7 election, called the removal thievery and considered police efforts to take his camper harassment.

Mr. VanLandingham, 33, had to be restrained and handcuffed when a towing company, backed by police officers, showed up at his doorstep to take the camper. The incident was an outgrowth of a situation that occurred last week when city officials ordered him to erect a four-foot fence around a pond next to his property after police and building inspectors investigated the property for city code violations.

Mr. VanLandingham said he asked the court for an expedited hearing because "with a criminal charge, it gives an unfavorable impression that will hang over my head during the election." A pretrial hearing, however, was set for May 13.

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