Harford farmer gets community service in firefighter obstruction case

The case of a Jarrettsville man accused of keeping firefighters from getting to a field where he was conducting an open burn last December was placed on the inactive docket Friday, according to court records and attorneys for the prosecution and defense.

Daniel Scott Pieper, 26, of the 4000 block of Norrisville Road, was charged with obstructing firefighters, obstructing and hindering a police officer and resisting arrest following a Dec. 3, 2013, incident in the 3000 block of Troyer Road in White Hall, on an agricultural property farmed by Pieper's family.

Following a pre-trial conference in Circuit Court Friday, the charges were placed on the court's stet, or inactive, docket; Pieper must perform 50 hours of community service as a condition of the stet.

The conference was initially held before retired Circuit Judge Maurice Baldwin, but Baldwin recused himself because he lives in the White Hall area and knows a number of people there, according to defense attorney David Henninger of the Bel Air firm of Henninger & Luber.

Henninger said Monday Judge Angela Eaves presided over the conference. Baldwin declined to comment on the case Monday.

Prosecutors typically take no action against a defendant in cases placed on the stet docket for one year as long as said defendant adheres to the conditions.

"If he fails to do the 50 hours we can bring him back," Harford State's Attorney Joe Cassilly said of Pieper Monday.

Cassilly noted attorneys for either side can put the case back on the active court docket during the first year of the stet for any reason, and they can put it back with permission from the court during the next two years.

Pieper sought a jury trial, but prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to the stet deal.

"We wanted to resolve it with some sort of sanction without having to bring a jury in," Cassilly explained.

Henninger noted "some cases really need to be settled" rather than take up time on the court docket.

During the Dec. 3 incident, Pieper was burning a pile of trash in a farm field owned by his father, Stephen Thomas Pieper, 63, of the 2900 block of Hunter Mill Road in White Hall.

The younger Pieper did not have a permit from the county to burn the trash. He used his vehicle to keep the firefighters from entering the driveway, telling them he did not want the fire vehicles tearing up the field, according to a police statement of charges.

The firefighters called for assistance for sheriff's deputies and Pieper backed away when deputies arrived. He hurled verbal abuse at the deputies, however, which his father also did when he arrived, according to the charging documents.

Father and son fled from the scene. Law enforcement officers eventually caught them, and both were charged.

Prosecutors dropped charges against Stephen Pieper in May.

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