Robert D. Ballinger II, a former spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Department of Corrections, on Sept. 3 pleaded guilty to impersonating a U.S. Secret Service special agent, according to court documents. Ballinger, a Maryland GOP operative and three-time candidate for Howard County school board, faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 19 by U.S. District judge Richard Bennett. According to the statement of facts attached to Ballinger's plea agreement, on Feb. 14 he "presented a counterfeit United States Secret Service badge as proof of identification at a First Mariner Bank in Ellicott City," where he lives, and "withdrew $300.00 from a bank account belonging to another person." Bank staff balked at the withdrawal at first, with the teller and the assistant branch manager each requesting additional identification as Ballinger repeatedly "insisted that the badge was sufficient proof of his identity." Ultimately, the statement says, the branch manager approved the withdrawal "and Ballinger left the branch with the misappropriated funds." Earlier, in January, the statement continues, Ballinger "attended an inaugural celebration ball in Washington, D.C., and displayed a Department of Defense credential issued to United States Armed Forces personnel who serve as full-time military staff to the President of the United States for at least one year," though "Ballinger has never worked at the White House nor served in the United States Armed Forces." Ballinger "admitted to actual United States Secret Service agents that he purchased" the badge and credential on E-bay "and that he understood that he was not entitled to display them or represent falsely that he was" a Secret Service or Armed Forces member, according to the statement. As City Paper
last month, Ballinger's LinkedIn profile and online resume posted on indeed.com claimed he was a staffer for U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), but Pitts' office has explained that he formerly worked there as an unpaid intern. In addition, Ballinger described himself as director of opposition research and communications for the Maryland Republican Party from 2010 to 2012, and as assistant chief of staff for Republican Robert Ehrlich's gubernatorial campaign in 2010. However, blogger Jeff Quinton of The Quinton Report consulted an Ehrlich campaign source who said that Ballinger
for the campaign.