In an emotional start to testimony in the official misconduct trial of Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, his former scheduling secretary cried as she described getting on her "hands and knees" to empty Leopold's urine from his catheter bag.
Patricia Meglin testified that after Leopold's back surgery in 2010, he asked her to help him change the bag—which was strapped to his ankle—because he couldn't bend over to do so himself.
"I was quiet at first because after he said that he looked at me and said 'You don’t have a problem with that, do you, Patty?'" Meglin said. "It was my experience that you don’t tell him no because then he would consider you un-loyal and then you lost your job ... I just didn’t say no because I was scared of losing my job."
Meglin said she finally refused to help with the catheter bag after she caught the two-term county executive with his leg up on a heater tying his shoe. She said she realized he had the range of motion to empty the urine on his own.
Leopold faces a five-count indictment, which includes four counts of misconduct in office and one count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary. His bench trial in front of Circuit Court Judge Dennis Sweeny started in Annapolis on Friday.
Maryland State Prosecutor Emmet Davitt said in his opening statements that the case would "in a nutshell" show that Leopold "willfully abused and misused" the powers given to him under the Anne Arundel County Charter.
Meglin, who is still employed by the county executive's office, also testified to putting up campaign signs for Leopold during his 2010 reelection campaign and regularly calling Anne Arunel County police officers assigned to his security detail to tell them where to go around the county to check on campaign signs.
The defense had no questions for Meglin, but attorney Bruce Marcus had a lot to ask Katherine Goodwin, the Anne Arundel County police officer tasked with creating the county's executive security detail in 1999 when Janet Owens was in office.
Marcus highlighted the fact that neither Goodwin or Thomas Shanahan, who was the county police chief at the time, wrote a set of "standard operations procedures" or guidelines for the security detail position.
He also pressed her on whether she'd driven Owens to social events, such as the governor's ball and the Baltimore Symphony. Goodwin testified she did and that she'd also waited in the car while Owens bought groceries.
"It didn’t matter what type of event it was," Goodwin said. "It was my job to get her there."
The defense emphasized this point in its opening statements, saying that "however tawdry" or "salacious" the state's accusations against Leopold are, they "do not rise to the level of criminal behavior."
Leopold is accused of asking his security detail to stand guard in a bowling alley parking lot while he engaged in sexual relations with a county employee.
The prosecution countered with testimony from Goodwin and Cpl. Joesph Pazulski—another police officer who served on security details for Owens and Leopold—that they did not handle campaign signs for Owens when she ran to be Maryland's comptroller.
Pazulski, a 25-year veteran of the Anne Arundel County Police Department, testified he put up between 40 and 50 campaign signs for Leopold during the 2010 election.
Pazulski said Leopold told him that since he was recovering from back surgery, it was OK for the officer to place the signs so long as Leopold was with him.
The officer also testified that Leopold assigned Cpl. Howard Brown to "take of the money or watch the money" he received at his reelection announcement in June 2010. Pazulski also said that one of his responsibilities while on weekend duty was to pick up a newspaper from a Pasadena Royal Farms store and deliver it to Leopold in the morning with the circulars removed.
Friday's proceedings ended before the defense had a chance to cross examine Pazulski. The trial will resume on Tuesday at 9 a.m. since the court will be closed on Monday for the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
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