SALEM — Police have questioned a well-known Salem criminal defense attorney in connection with the disappearance of signs from an Essex Street business over the past two months, allegations that even the lawyer conceded were "strange."
Raymond Buso, 58, whose law office is on Church Street, is suspected in at least one of the sign thefts from Rita's Italian Ice, a shop in the Museum Place Mall along Essex Street, according to a Salem police report.
Five signs have been taken from the area near the shop, and three of the thefts were caught on camera, including the one Tuesday night.
The shop's owner then confronted a man who police later recognized as Buso, and followed him to his Norman Street condo, with her cellphone camera rolling.
"I'm beside myself," said Cynthia Weaver, who has owned the Rita's franchise for the past three years.
Weaver said she doesn't know Buso.
She said she has "absolutely no idea" why someone would take the signs.
On Tuesday evening, just before 8:30 p.m., another business owner saw the sign being cut away from its stand in the lobby of the Museum Place Mall and followed the man. As the business owner passed Rita's, he alerted Weaver.
She ran out to confront the culprit, but he continued walking, carrying the sign in a green reusable grocery bag, Weaver said yesterday.
"He wouldn't stop for me," she said.
An ambulance crew parked at the top of Essex Street, in Townhouse Square, saw the commotion and called police. Meanwhile, Weaver followed the suspect through downtown Salem with her cellphone camera, according to the police report, until Buso went through a gate behind his condo and locked it behind him.
On the cellphone video, which Weaver showed to a reporter, Buso is seen walking through downtown Salem toting a green bag, as Weaver yelled for him to stop.