ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – A Maryland official was indicted Friday for misusing his police protection squad, including making them wait while he had sex with a county employee in parking lots, using the officers to conceal his affair and having them do errands such as emptying his urinary catheter bag, prosecutors said.
Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold was charged with four counts of misconduct in office and a count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary, state prosecutor Emmet Davitt announced Friday.
“These abuses will not be tolerated,” he said.
Leopold, 69, said Friday he will vigorously fight the charges and looks forward to having his side of the story heard.
“When all the salient facts are known, I’m confident that we will prevail,” the Republican said in a telephone interview.
The indictment alleges a systematic use of the officers as political campaign workers for his re-election campaign. Leopold regularly required them to place and check on campaign signs, often for several hours a day, throughout 2010 when he ran for a second four-year term.
Leopold’s assistant chief administrative officer suggested in the summer of 2010 that the county executive spend about $2,000 in campaign funds to pay people to place campaign signs, but Leopold refused, according to the indictment.
Officers also drove him to areas where he is accused of removing campaign signs of his Democratic opponent, Joanna Conti, prosecutors said in the indictment.
Leopold directed a police officer to be present at a fundraiser and collect campaign donation checks. He directed on-duty executive protection officers to create dossiers on political challengers, including Conti and Carl Snowden, the indictment said, noting that police did not consider them to be security risks, the indictment said.
“Wow,” Conti said when asked Friday for comment on the allegations, adding that if they are true she believes Leopold should step down. “He’s a J. Edgar Hoover. Again, that is a misuse of county resources.”
In the second half of 2010, his sexual encounters with the county employee happened up to three times weekly during regular work hours in the parking lots of Annapolis-area businesses, the indictment said.
Leopold, who is not married, is accused of using the officers’ personal cellphones to call the county employee and requested a second officer to be on duty when attending events with her to conceal the relationship from his longtime live-in girlfriend, prosecutors allege. When he was hospitalized twice for back surgery in 2010, he had the officers work more than 170 hours of overtime _ costing the county more than $10,000 _ to make sure the woman would not try to see him, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors alleged that he made the police officers and his appointments coordinator empty his urinary catheter bag for him while he recovered from surgery.
Leopold declined to talk about the indictment’s specifics, but said the grand jury process can be manipulated and controlled solely by the state prosecutor.
“While it would be inappropriate for me to publicly comment on the allegations, the citizens of the county can look to my decades-long history of valued public service and assure themselves and have confidence in the fact that I’ve always placed the taxpayers’ interest above all else.”
Associated Press writer Ben Nuckols contributed to this report.
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