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Officer gets home detention in search warrant perjury case

TheftJustice System

A Baltimore police officer was sentenced to six months of home detention on Thursday for lying on a search warrant application to raid a house in Canton.

The target of the search, David Esteppe, says Officer Adam Lewellen conspired with Esteppe's ex-girlfriend to raid his home in the 3100 block of Foster Ave. in March 2012. Esteppe has filed a lawsuit against Lewellen seeking monetary damages.

The search by Lewellen and other officers turned up a gun and what police believed was drugs. Esteppe was arrested, but all the charges against him were dropped.

The relationship between Lewellen and Esteppe's ex-girlfriend at the time of the raid is unclear in court filings. Brandi Chelchowski, the woman, said in court papers that she was his girlfriend, but the relationship has since ended.

Lewellen pleaded guilty in March to perjury and misconduct in office. His attorney, Matthew B. Fraling III, said Thursday that Lewellen is sorry for what happened.

"He took responsibility for what he did," Fraling said. "He's working on trying to move forward with his life."

The city Police Department suspended Lewellen with pay while the criminal case was pending, Fraling said. Lewellen was required to resign as part of his sentence, according to a statement released by the State's Attorney's Office Friday.

While the criminal case is over, the civil case is pending. Lewellen has not answered Esteppe's allegations in court. His attorney in that case declined to comment.

John Raine III, who is representing Esteppe, said his client has suffered greatly since the raid.

"This whole thing has been really negatively impacting his life when it comes to business and his social life," he said. "It's hard for most people to accept that he was totally innocent."

Chelchowski could not be reached for comment Thursday.

She said in court papers that her relationship with Lewellen ended in November 2012. After they broke up, she said, Lewellen harassed her and stole things from her home.

She filed theft charges against Lewellen in Baltimore County and said she was helping police in the search warrant case.

"I am a witness for Baltimore City [internal affairs] and Adam is trying to stop me from helping them or testifying at his trial," she wrote.

Lewellen entered an Alford plea to a charge of theft, meaning he did not admit guilt but acknowledged prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him. He received probation before judgment.

iduncan@baltsun.com

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