COVINGTON, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) – A sting operation to arrest a mayoral candidate on charges that he was stealing yard signs from his opponent is hardly politics as usual.

A 70-year-old conservative mayoral candidate in Covington, Ga., was arrested Wednesday on allegations he had purchased 50 stolen signs of his opponent from an undercover cop, according to police.

Bobby Sigman, a realtor in the community for more than 40 years, was arrested in a sting operation after police received a complaint that signs from Sigman’s opponent, Ronnie Johnston, were being stolen. Sigman was charged with theft by taking, criminal trespass, and making false statements within a political subdivision. He was later released from Newton County Jail on $3,500 bond.

Sigman told CBS Atlanta that the allegations lobbed against him is a prime example of dirty politics in a small town, calling the sting operation against him a petty exercise on the part of the “old establishment” to prevent him from winning the Nov. 8 mayoral election.

“They knew I was running ahead of this guy and it was a sure thing I was going to be elected,” he said, referring to the city’s “powers-that-be.” “They had to do something to discredit my campaign. Why would you go out and set up a sting operation over a few political signs? It doesn’t make sense.

“It’s crazy. I was running ahead of my opponent, and I’m sure as hell not going to do anything this stupid.”

Covington police have a much different point of view of what happened. Police told CBS Atlanta that Sigman, a former Covington city councilman and state representative, continued to make false statements to investigators concerning his role in the thefts of Johnston’s lawn signs.

Still, Sigman remains perplexed over the issue, pointing out that he’s had signs that have gone missing during the course of the campaign that didn’t require a sting operation. Though there’s no way around Wednesday’s arrest not being embarrassing matter, he said.

“I’ve always fought the powers-that-be in the city,” Sigman said, choosing not to name specific officials. “The powers-that-be don’t like me and will do any darn thing to keep me from being elected.”

He later added: “We’re going to win. We’re going to win. We’re not going to let this distract us.”

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