"Now it's up to the County Council," she said.

After the meeting Wednesday, the council is expected to hold a public hearing and vote Monday on the bill to remove Leopold. A provision in the County Charter allows the council to oust the executive for crimes of "moral turpitude." At least five of the seven members must agree for the measure to pass.

County spokesman David Abrams said Leopold was suspended under the Maryland Constitution, which was amended by voters last year to require the suspension of elected officials upon conviction of a crime.

It was unclear whether Leopold's case would in fact fall under the amendment, because he was indicted before state voters approved the measure in November. Without the amendment, the suspension would not be in effect. Typically, public officials are removed from office after sentencing.

Leopold had signed an executive order on Monday designating the chief administrative officer as acting county executive "in the event of my temporary disability or absence from the County."

If Leopold is removed from office, it will be up to the County Council to select a replacement from the Republican Party.

In closing arguments earlier Tuesday, Davitt described Leopold as an intimidating boss who knew from his long experience as an elected official in Hawaii and Maryland that it was wrong to direct public employees to run his personal and political errands.

And if Leopold didn't know, Davitt said, he should have listened when officers and aides warned against using police officers to post his red Leopold signs around the county during the 2010 campaign.

Marcus didn't dispute that Leopold directed the officers to put up his signs, to gather information on Conti, to empty his catheter bag, to ferry him to the weekly liaisons with the county employee or to keep the relationship from his live-in girlfriend.

But Marcus said none of these actions amounted to a crime. He described Leopold as an "enigmatic, idiosyncratic, unconventional" politician who sought help from the workers around him only after he began to suffer debilitating back pain.

If that was wrong, Marcus argued, it should be left to county voters to judge Leopold in the next election.

Leopold is serving his second term, the maximum allowed under county law.

Sweeney agreed with Marcus on one count. "At a bare minimum," he said, the parking lot assignations were "tawdry, degrading and highly offensive." But he said he could not conclude that they amounted to criminal misconduct in office.

Sweeney found Leopold not guilty last week of a fourth count of misconduct, for directing officers to drive him around as he uprooted Conti's signs.

The judge called Leopold's conduct toward former scheduler Patricia Medlin "particularly egregious."

Medlin had testified tearfully that she changed Leopold's catheter bag two or three times per working day for months because she feared for her job.

The 15-year county worker said she had told the executive when she joined his staff that she was concerned about losing her job and jeopardizing her retirement.

"Given this knowledge and the power imbalance," between Leopold and Medlin, Sweeney said, "his conduct appears predatory and cruel."

"This continuing abusive and outrageous conduct exceeded any right that any employer, either public or private, would have to demand of employees who were hired to perform office or security work. …

"The fact that defendant did this in such a cavalier and arrogant fashion, especially as it pertains to Ms. Medlin, shows defendant's utter contempt for the public employees who worked under him."