Leopold criminal case headed for trial

Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold must stand trial on allegations that he misused his police detail for personal and political gain.

Judge Dennis M. Sweeney ruled Monday that a jury will hear all five counts leveled against Leopold, who is accused of dispatching his security detail for tasks that ranged from compiling files on perceived political enemies to ferrying Leopold to sexual rendezvous.

Sweeney's ruling denies Leopold's effort to throw the case out of court before the scheduled Sept. 4 trial.

Leopold's defense attorney, Bruce L. Marcus, asked Sweeney last month to dismiss the charges or to try them separately. Through a spokesman, Leopold declined to comment on the ruling.

A grand jury impaneled by the state prosecutor indicted the two-term Republican in March. The indictment alleges that Leopold sent police detectives on personal errands, asked them to drive him to remove a political opponent's campaign signs and directed them to investigate political adversaries. Leopold is also accused having officers drop him off for sexual liaisons with a county employee in parking lots. He faces four counts of misconduct in office and one of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary.

Leopold's attorney had contended that the four misconduct charges were not specific enough. But Sweeney disagreed, writing that "the state has specified the conduct by the defendant that is alleged to be misconduct in office and specifically referred to and incorporated the portions of the narrative part of the indictment that support the count."

The judge also said "there is sufficient protection to the defendant from being convicted for conduct which is truly innocent in nature." He noted that the state alleges Leopold committed each offense "corruptly" as well as "knowingly, willfully and intentionally."

That means prosecutors must prove that about each offense to obtain convictions.

In a third ruling, which was in response to a defense claim that prosecutors did not provide enough detailed information about the allegations, Sweeney wrote that prosecutors provided the defense with 62 paragraphs in the indictment, 90 boxes of documents and other evidence, and other records. He concluded that the defense has "more than adequate information as to what the state alleges, and is able to prepare a defense to the counts alleged."

Leopold has denied any wrongdoing and said he will address the specific allegations in court.

"We are certainly pleased with the court's ruling, and we are continuing to prepare for trial," Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Shelly S. Glenn said.

Sweeney is a retired Howard County judge who presided over former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon's 2009 corruption trial.

Leopold's attorney, Marcus, said he had not read the ruling and was not in a position to comment.



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