A 21-year-old man was sentenced Monday in Anne Arundel County to five days in jail for a probation violation related to his role in a murder his mother committed.
Matthew Haarhoff pleaded guilty in 2008 to being an accessory in the murder of Tony Fertitta, his mother's boyfriend. Haarhoff's mother, Cindy McKay, was sentenced to 30 years in the killing of Fertitta, whose body was found ablaze beside a Millersville road in February 2006. Haarhoff received a suspended sentence followed by three years of probation for his role in disposing of Fertitta's body.
The family was the subject of a three-part series in The Baltimore Sun in 2008. McKay, a mother of six and former police cadet, is a career thief who embezzled $250,000 from a Catholic seminary in Baltimore, faked her death and survived a house fire that claimed the life of one of her husbands. McKay, who a prosecutor said was "without rival, the most devious person this court will come across," is appealing her conviction.
Haarhoff, now living in Dundalk under supervised probation with his girlfriend and another roommate, admitted Monday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court that he had moved to the Eastern Shore in October without first receiving permission from his probation officer.
Circuit Judge Pamela L. North ruled Haarhoff's action a violation of his probation and ordered him incarcerated for 20 days, suspending the 15 days he already spent in jail immediately after the violation.
Haarhoff, who grew up in institutions and foster homes and who family members have said was manipulated by McKay, gave his keys and wallet to his lawyer upon the sentencing. In brief remarks to the judge, he acknowledged "how I'm screwing up," and said, "I tend to not take things too seriously sometimes."
Haarhoff's attorney, David Putzi, said his client lost his job and went to Salisbury to work in a poultry factory, an opportunity that ultimately didn't work out.
Putzi said Haarhoff left a message for the probation officer, George St. Peter, after leaving but acknowledged his client "foolishly went down there without permission."
"[Haarhoff] should have told him first," Putzi said. "They were really hurting for some cash. He was motivated by finances, not by any intention to flee."
St. Peter asked the judge to impose jail time, saying that although Haarhoff has generally complied with the terms of his probation - twice-weekly visits to his probation officer and maintaining employment - at least one of Haarhoff's bosses spoke ill of him, saying he was "not following orders and strutting around with cockiness."
He also cited a March 2009 incident in which Haarhoff was charged with driving with a suspended license, a charge that was ultimately dropped and was not ruled an official probation violation.
"He needs someone to compel him to do what he's supposed to do, or he won't do it," said St. Peter, who added later, "With the notoriety of this case, he needs to learn to buckle down, ... humble himself to maintain the job. But Mr. Haarhoff has a difficult time doing that."
St. Peter said he also ordered Haarhoff to attend anger-management classes after hearing about "disturbing accounts of him and his girlfriend" arguing.
Putzi said Haarhoff has been attending classes and taken steps to get his high school-equivalency certificate.
Putzi told the judge of Haarhoff's journey: "The fact that we've made it this far is, in some ways, a minor miracle."