By Peter Hermann, The Baltimore Sun
6:15 PM EDT, April 23, 2012
Carl O. Snowden, the civil rights chief for the Maryland attorney general's office who was arrested on a drug charge last week, was in a car with a convicted felon in Druid Hill Park when city police officers smelled marijuana, according to court documents released Monday.
Two officers said in a charging document that they pulled up in an unmarked car Thursday afternoon, approached a 2010 Honda Pilot with all four windows rolled down, and smelled "a strong odor" of marijuana coming from inside.
The officers saw a brown cigar containing suspected marijuana in the center console of the car that Snowden was driving, according to the document. Police said his passenger had a clear plastic bag with suspected marijuana in his front right pants pocket.
Snowden, 58, a well-known civil rights leader and former Annapolis alderman, and Anthony Hill, 28, who is on the state's sex offender registry, were each charged with possession of marijuana.
The court documents offer the most detailed look thus far at the incident — which came a day before Snowden announced he would temporarily step down from the attorney general's office. At the time, Snowden's attorney said the move would allow Snowden to pursue a lawsuit against Anne Arundel County; no mention was made of the drug arrest.
David Paulson, a spokesman for the attorney general's office said Monday that Snowden "has taken unpaid, administrative leave effective [Friday,] April 20." He declined to comment further.
Snowden, who lives in the 200 block of Garden Gates Lane in Annapolis, was released on his own recognizance and has a court hearing scheduled for May.
In early 2011, Snowden was placed on three years' probation and given a 60-day suspended sentence after being convicted of driving while impaired by alcohol on Route 97 in Anne Arundel County. If he is found guilty of the marijuana charge, a judge could reimpose that suspended jail term.
Snowden also had received probation before judgment in a 2003 drunken-driving case.
Snowden's attorney, Cary J. Hansel III, did not return calls seeking comment Monday. In an emailed statement Sunday, Hansel said he was confident Snowden would be found not guilty, and noted that another man was in the car at the time. Of the marijuana, Hansel said, "This is such a small amount that such minimal possession is a minor misdemeanor."
Hansel also represents Snowden in the action against Anne Arundel County. According to a letter sent to the county, Snowden will claim he suffered emotional distress after County Executive John R. Leopold was accused in a criminal indictment of using his police protection detail to compile a dossier about Snowden. The attorney demanded $20 million to settle the case.
In the charging document on last week's drug arrest, officers Vaughn J. Diggs and Sherrod Biggers said the suspected marijuana "blunt" was in plain view between the driver's and passenger's seats. The officers did not write that they saw either suspect smoking the suspected drugs.
The officers said that about 5 p.m. Thursday, they were alongside the park in the 3200 block of Reisterstown Road, which they described as a "high drug trafficking area plagued with violent crime." They said they saw the Honda parked inside the park with the windows down.
As they walked up to the car, Biggers wrote in the court document, "I could also smell a strong odor which based on my training and experience I know to be marijuana." The officers said they showed the occupants their police badges.
"The driver of the vehicle who was identified as Mr. Carl Snowden along with the front seat passenger Mr. Anthony Hill were removed from the vehicle and placed under arrest for this [drug] violation," the charging documents state.
A District Court judge set bail Monday for Hill at $1,000, but he had not posted it by Monday afternoon and was still being held in the Baltimore City Detention Center. He has a lengthy arrest record on charges of assault, and drugs and weapons possession, but few convictions.
In 2002, court records show, Hill pleaded guilty to a third-degree sex offense after prosecutors dropped two counts of rape. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with all but six months suspended. He was put on five years' probation, which he was found guilty of violating three times.
The Maryland Sex Offender registry lists Hill as compliant but has him living in the 1800 block of W. Lexington St., a different address from the one he gave police when he was arrested Thursday.
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