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Leopold Suspended, Guilty on Two Counts of Misconduct in Office

The Anne Arundel county executive could now face removal from office.

UPDATE (6:15 p.m.)—A Circuit Court judge in Annapolis found Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold guilty of two counts of criminal misconduct in office on Tuesday.

Chief Administrative Officer John Hammond is now serving as acting Anne Arundel county executive as a result of the suspension of Leopold from his duties.

Sweeney acquitted Leopold of three other charges. 

Leopold faced a five-count grand jury indictment that included four counts of misconduct in office and one count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary.

The Anne Arundel County Council is expected to vote on Leopold's removal from office as soon as Monday. 

Prosecutors of the case claimed that Leopold misused his security detail—which is paid for by the county—by ordering the officers to collect campaign donations, distribute campaign signs, empty Leopold's catheter bag of urine, drive him to sexual encounters in a bowling alley parking lot, pick up his dry cleaning and drop off the morning paper at his home.

The defense did not dispute some of the facts of the case but argued that the accusations at worst amounted to Leopold being a bad boss who may have spent county money unwisely by leaning on his security detail while recovering from two rounds of back surgery in 2010.

Count One
Sweeney found Leopold guilty of the first count of the indictment, which dealt with the use of Leopold's executive protection officers as an arm of his 2010 re-election campaign.

"The defendant’s efforts to involve his protection officers in political and campaign activities were extensive and pervasive to the extent that at time the officers were working primarily on campaign events while on duty," Sweeney said. "It should have come as no surprise to the candidate that having on-duty police officers on his campaign was wrongful and illegal."

Sweeney noted that the police officers should have spoken up and their leadership was "derelict in protecting their officers."

He added that using uniformed officers as political operatives "has a potential to undermine the public’s confidence in its police force" and Leopold effectively placed his "thumb on our political system to heavily tilt in his favor."

Count Two
Sweeney acquitted Leopold on this count on Friday, saying the prosecution failed to prove that he committed a crime.

The judge said on Friday that when the police drove Leopold around the county to destroy or remove the campaign signs of his opponent Joanna Conti during the 2010 election it showed "poor judgement" but not misconduct in office.

Count Three
The prosecution alleged that Leopold asked officers and his executive staff to run personal errands. Sweeney called Leopold's lunch liaisons with Connie Casalena, a county employee and Leopold's alleged mistress, "tawdry, degrading and highly offensive," but said Leopold's actions did not rise to the level of misconduct in office.

However when it came to requiring officers and his scheduling secretary, Patty Medelin, to empty the urine from Leopold's catheter bag, Sweeney found Leopold guilty of abusing his power.

Asking a subordinate to empty his catheter bag was "simply outrageous, egregious and wild beyond anything authority he possessed or thought he could possess by virtue of his office," Sweeney said. "The defendant demonstrates an overbearing arrogance and sense of entitlement that is unworthy of someone in public service."

Count Four
Sweeney found Leopold not guilty on this count saying that Leopold's decision to have two officers protect him while recovering from two back surgeries at Anne Arundel Medical Center was not an unreasonable choice.

Sweeney said Leopold's decision seemed to him an arbitrary distinction and not one that rose to the level of misconduct in office.

Count Five
The fifth and most serious charge of the indictment was fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary. The prosecution argued that Leopold defrauded the county of money when his protection detail was paid to keep watch around-the-clock at the hospital while he recovered from two back surgeries.

Sweeney found Leopold not guilty because he disagreed with the prosecution's argument (in count four) that the staffing level at the hospital amounted to misconduct in office.

If convicted on the fraud charge, Leopold would have faced up to five years in prison.

Next Steps
Leopold now faces removal from office by Anne Arundel County Council due to a state law passed by voters on referendum in November 2012. The law permits state and local legislatures to remove elected officials after a conviction rather than after being sentenced.

"[The] bill is already drafted by one of the council members and would be introduced on Monday evening," County Council Chairman Jerry Walker (R-District 7) said before the verdict was announced.

Chief Administrative Officer John Hammond is now serving as acting Anne Arundel county executive as a result of the suspension of Leopold from his duties. The Maryland Constitution provides for suspension of an elected official upon a guilty finding in a criminal case.

If Leopold is permanently removed from office, Hammond would continue as acting county executive until a replacement could be voted on by the full council. Both the vote on Leopold's removal and on his replacement would require a 5-2 majority to pass.

Patch will update this story with more information later.

See also:

  • Judge Finds Leopld Not Guilty on One Misconduct Charge
  • Leopold's Defense Emerges as Prosecution Rests in Misconduct Trial
  • Lawyers Lay Out Their Cases in Leopold Trial
  • Leopold Waives Right to Jury Trial
  • County Executive's Trial Starts in Annapolis
Donna Macauley January 29, 2013 at 09:47 PM
If he is not voted out of office, I will have to leave Anne Arundel county because that in itself will prove the county is run by crooked politicians.
Carol B January 29, 2013 at 09:58 PM
Grin now, you sleaze! What a pity that all you will lose is your job and maybe your cushy retirement. You lost your dignity and the right to lead anyone, anywhere, any time months ago, when this story first broke. You're a disgrace to your neighbors, to the office, to the people you were sworn to serve, to the Republican party, and to this entire county. You're "entitled" only to be ostracized by the decent people around you. What a shame they no longer run people like you out of town on a rail!
Carol B January 29, 2013 at 10:07 PM
Amen, Donna--amen. And if they don't turn him out of office, we need to find a way of communicating en masse that the citizens of Taxus have no intention of taking this or anything like it, anymore. Where was O'Malley, while our taxes were being used in such a disgraceful and brazen manner?? (Proposing another increase, no doubt.)
Elly Tierney January 29, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Great reporting by Annapolis Patch! Bravo Anna
Joe Robinson January 29, 2013 at 10:34 PM
So should we wait with bated breath for his 'slap on the wrist'. I have to get the hell out of this state. This sucks...
Carol B January 29, 2013 at 10:45 PM
He should be required to reimburse the taxpayers for the value of the services he abused--oh, but wait: that would only give his other cronies in office more money to blow elsewhere . . . wouldn't it? I'm with you, Joe. ENOUGH!
Catherine King January 29, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Not only should he lose his cushy job, they should throw his perverted nasty old self in prison, where he would be paid back for what he has done to the responsible tax payers of Anne Arundel County.
George Washington January 29, 2013 at 11:03 PM
big deal, i mean emptying a catheter bag, having cops perform a civic duty to watch over him, The misappropriation of maybe a couple of hours of pay. The MVA misappropriates loads and loads of tax payer money. Had anyone thought of removing the idiots running the MVA? NO, this guy is put on a chopping block to distract people from the real problems we Americans and our state faces, there has been billions of dollars misappropriated and no one is being removed, people start asking your selves the real questions, not this stupid petty stuff!
shaun fsir January 29, 2013 at 11:22 PM
The only way to change anything is to vote all the crooks out... All the way to the top. They are all stealing from all of us and our children.
LLH January 29, 2013 at 11:25 PM
"The defendant demonstrates an overbearing arrogance and sense of entitlement that is unworthy of someone in public service." And THAT is putting it mildly. What an ass.
Carol B January 29, 2013 at 11:28 PM
But they won't, Catherine--because he was "only" convicted of misdemeanors. How gallant of him, to be "humbled" by the verdict--if he'd been a little more "humble" in the first place, he wouldn't have been in court. Like the rest of them, the thing he's most sorry for is that he got CAUGHT!
Carol B January 29, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Failure to prosecute in the past is indicative of a corruption in our government of which we are all too well aware, Mr. President. Failure to prosecute when we are aware of how pervasive that corruption is, not only in federal but in state and local government, too, would be indicative of the kind of bovine stupidity that gives a gullible public exactly the kind of politicians it deserves. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step--if not now, when?--if not him, whom? Maybe those who blindly turn their heads when these things are occurring are the ones who need to ask themselves the hard questions. I deserve better than this--how about you?
Charles Anderson January 30, 2013 at 01:45 AM
This is all about the police dept union.......Leopoldo would not agree to binding arbitration .
Charles Anderson January 30, 2013 at 01:46 AM
This is all about the police dept union.......Leopoldo would not agree to binding arbitration .
Carol B January 30, 2013 at 02:07 AM
You aren't really suggesting that the police department union is at fault for exposing Leopold's malfeasance, are you, Charles?? The fact remains that, regardless of what their motive might have been, if he hadn't done what he did, they couldn't have used his malfeasance against him--could they? But it wasn't only the police: it was the staffers he abused as well (except that they were too afraid to come forward until someone else exposed him for the slime that he is). You can't afford to make anyone despise you when your hands are dirty--but every last one of the men who gets caught in this kind of scandal always thinks he's the only one who's smart enough to get away with it, and that the people around him adore or fear him so much that they will never betray him.
edward myers January 30, 2013 at 09:56 AM
I'm still wondering how he was acting as a private citizen when in fact it was a reelection campaign that he used state county paid officers to steal his opponets signs, thats theft and felony conspiracy,while in office using county employees. sounds like he was acting as county exec. to me.
Chris W January 30, 2013 at 10:49 AM
There had been rumors for a long time, but it was not until the binding arbitration issue that the police came forward. You just don't cross unions. Dont you know who runs all the unions?

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