Law enforcement has arrested a man who allegedly stole signed Board of Education recall petitions at a Richmond District farmers’ market in May.
Jason Kruta, a 31-year old Richmond District resident, self-surrendered at San Francisco County Jail at 11:09 a.m. on Tuesday morning on a $10,000 bond, according to the state attorney general’s office.
Kruta was charged with violating section 18631 of the Elections Code, which says that any person who takes by force or stealth any signed initiative, referendum or recall petition is guilty of a misdemeanor. Kruta’s arraignment is set for 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 28, 2021.
On May 30, an incident in which Kruta allegedly stole a stack of signed school board recall petitions was captured on video. In the now-viral video, first published by Here/Say Media, parent volunteer Man Kit Lam is seen confronting Kruta after noticing a clipboard full of signed recall petitions missing from his table.
“You caught me. You caught me,” Kruta said, pulling a handful of signed recall petitions from his back pocket. After returning the signed petitions, Kruta told Lam, “if you’re preventing me from leaving…I’m going to sue you.”
An attorney for Lam later alleged that Kruta had also signed a fake name to a batch of petitions to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin that was at the volunteer table, a felony punishable of up to four years in prison under California law.
In June, Lam’s attorney, Paul Scott, asked Boudin to recuse the District Attorney’s office from the case and instead refer it to the California Attorney General for prosecution.
“It’s really emotional for me,” said Lam, who had lobbied for Kruta’s arrest. Lam, a SFUSD parent and volunteer for the campaign to recall three members of the Board of Education, described Kruta as a “radical” who sought to disrupt a legal democratic process.
Kruta, according to a LinkedIn profile, is a graduate of Columbia University and was a data coordinator for Jewish Vocational Services. On June 17, Jewish Vocational Services said it dismissed an employee for “apparently interfering with the petition-gathering process of the San Francisco Board of Education recall.”
Kruta did not return Here/Say’s request for comment.
The Board of Education recall effort is targeting Board President Gabriela López, Vice President Faauuga Moliga and Commissioner Alison Collins. The campaign submitted approximately 80,000 signatures per school board member in early September, and 51,325 are required to qualify.
The Department of Elections will now determine whether there are enough valid signatures to force a special election, with a decision expected in early October.
This story is developing and will be updated.Sophie Bearman can be reached at [email protected].
Annie Gaus can be reached at [email protected].