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Leopold waives right to jury trial; judge will decide case

ElectionsJustice System

Attorneys likely will begin laying out their cases before week's end in the criminal trial of Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold, who is accused of using taxpayer-funded police officers for his personal and political benefit.

Leopold on Thursday waived his right to a jury trial, which means the case will be heard and decided by Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney. The decision came after the trial opened Thursday with a day of jury selection.

Leopold, 69, was indicted last March on four counts of misconduct in office and one count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary. If convicted of the fraud charge, he could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Judges have broad leeway on sentences for misconduct in office because the charge carries no specific penalty.

Leopold is accused of using officers assigned to his security detail to set up campaign signs, collect and deposit campaign contributions, compile dossiers on political adversaries and drive him around as he took down the signs of Joanna Conti, his Democratic challenger in 2010.

Leopold also is alleged to have directed officers to drive him to parking-lot liaisons with a county employee, and to keep his live-in girlfriend from meeting the woman. He also is accused of using an officer and a staff aide to empty the urinary catheter bag he used while he was recovering from back surgeries.

He has denied wrongdoing.

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The Republican politician is now in his second term as county executive. He has remained in office while under indictment.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

matthew.brown@baltsun.com

twitter.com/matthewhaybrown

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