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No jail for rainbow flag theft

by Alex Madison

Vincent Joseph O'Sullivan. Photo: Courtesy Sonoma County Sheriff's Office
Vincent Joseph O'Sullivan. Photo: Courtesy Sonoma County Sheriff's Office  

After being found guilty last month of stealing a rainbow flag from the Guerneville Plaza flagpole in May, Vincent Joseph O'Sullivan was sentenced to 36 months probation and 100 hours of community service, according to a spokesman at the Sonoma County District Attorney's office.

O'Sullivan, 55, was sentenced July 13 at Sonoma County Superior Court in Santa Rosa. During his trial, Sonoma County sheriff's deputy Theodore Van Bebber testified that when he questioned O'Sullivan he didn't deny taking the flag and admitted that the flag's presence on that flagpole offended him as well as others.

O'Sullivan was also caught on a surveillance camera stealing the flag with an accomplice, who has now been identified as Michael Tomas Campos. Campos, 35, was booked in the Sonoma County Jail July 11 on one count of petty theft, disturbing the peace, and possession of a controlled substance. Campos is still in custody on $22,500 bail. His next court date is scheduled for July 20.

In addition to community service, which will specifically be spent cleaning up the Russian River, O'Sullivan was also fined $255 and ordered to pay restitution of $17.50 to Beth Streets, a straight ally who started a Flag Supporters group that has been replacing the stolen rainbow flags. Streets has been following his case very closely, attending most of his court hearings.

"I am thrilled beyond words to see that justice has prevailed, and that our justice system can and does work!!" Streets said in a Facebook post. "The judge it made it very clear today that he did not approve of Vincent O'Sullivan's behavior and that he had no tolerance for his actions."

If O'Sullivan does not complete his community service within six months or comply with all the standards of his probation, he will serve 120 days in county jail.

As previously reported by the Bay Area Reporter, O'Sullivan also faces a hate crime charge for another incident in May where he threatened to "bomb the gay people in Guerneville" at a local Safeway store, authorities said. He targeted one individual who was the victim in this case, a gay male employee of the Starbucks located inside the Guerneville Safeway store off Highway 116.

Other threats and language allegedly used by O'Sullivan during the incident included, "I am going to kill all the motherfucking gays," and "I am going to blow you up you motherfucking faggot," according to Robert Maddock, the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case.

O'Sullivan pleaded not guilty to the hate crime charge at his arraignment July 12. He is expected back in court July 25 to set a date for jury trial. Sonoma County Deputy District Attorney Matt Hobson is handling the case, according to DA spokesman Joseph Langenbahn.

O'Sullivan's attorney, Chris Chouteau, declined to comment.

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