The Carroll County Sheriff's Department's former head of criminal investigations pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to a misdemeanor charge of misconduct in office, and has been sentenced to a suspended one-year jail term, three years of probation, a fine and community service.
Nicholas Plazio, who resigned as a major in the Sheriff's Department last week after the charge was brought by the Maryland state prosecutor, entered the plea in Circuit Court before Judge Michael Galloway.
Plazio was accused of giving false statements to the county State's Attorney and the court last year and in 2011 in connection with his role in the investigation of a homicide that took place in Hampstead in 2010.
Charges against two people in that case were eventually dropped, and State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes said the alleged false statements damaged the case.
"Every law enforcement officer has a preeminent duty of honesty in the investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses," State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt said in a written statement. "When an officer violates that duty, he brings dishonor, contempt and disrepute to the entire criminal justice system."
Davitt's office is also investigating Detective Douglas Epperson in connection with the murder case, but has declined to comment on that aspect of the inquiry. Barnes has declined to elaborate on why Plazio's statements harmed the investigation of the stabbing death of Jeremiah P. DeMario, who was 25.
Charging documents accused Plazio of lying when he said he did not watch interviews of two suspects in the DeMario case, and when he did not tell Epperson to continue interviewing one of the suspects after she had requested a lawyer.
The investigation of Epperson and Plazio also led the Carroll County state's attorney's office decision in March 2012 to drop charges related to the death of a of a teenage male at the Bowling Brook Academy in 2007.