A tenant of Taneytown Councilman Donald Frazier has filed a criminal complaint against him after she says Frazier burst into her apartment and assaulted her Oct. 19, leaving her shaken and her young son hysterical, court records, a police report, a 911 recording and complainant interview detail.
Frazier, 59, is facing charges of second-degree assault and fourth-degree burglary, according to online court records. When contacted by the Times on Thursday, Frazier deferred comment to his attorney, David Ellin.
Ellin, a former candidate for House of Delegates, said his client denies the accusations and believes the charges filed against Frazier were in response to a dispute over rent.
“[The complainant] owe[s] a tremendous amount in back rent and we believe [charges were filed] for retaliatory purposes,” Ellin said in a phone interview Thursday with the Times.
A trial is scheduled for Dec. 18 in Carroll County District Court.
Stephanie Derita wrote in the application for charges that she heard Frazier, her landlord, arguing with another tenant before her apartment door burst open, at approximately 7:45 a.m. Oct. 19. Derita rents an apartment in the basement of Frazier’s home, located on Bentley Street in Taneytown. Derita is still living in the basement apartment as of Thursday, Nov. 1.
Frazier entered and began yelling at Derita and throwing objects, telling her she and her family had to be out of the house by the next day or all of her possessions would then be his, she said in the incident report obtained from the Taneytown Police Department.
Frazier then threw a large toy car, which belonged to Derita’s 9-year-old son, and pushed and tipped a couch, Derita told police.
Derita told police that while he was yelling at her, Frazier pushed her “with two hands in the area of her chest,” adding that, “she did not fall down to the ground, but did stumble backwards.”
Police identified the other tenant as Judy Ann Melenoski. Melenoski told officers Frazier approached her and began yelling at her, telling her she had to get out of his house by the next day, police wrote. She told officers that she had only been renting a room in the house for a week prior to the incident, the report details.
Melenoski told police she witnessed Frazier “force his way” into the basement area where Derita and her family live, heard Frazier screaming at Derita and that she heard loud banging noises from Frazier, prompting Melenoski to leave the house in a panic, according to the report.
Melenoski said she was looking to move out of the house “in fear of Mr. Frazier,” according to the police report. Derita told the Times Melenoski had moved out. Multiple attempts to locate contact information for Melenoski to seek comment were unsuccessful.
According to Maryland law, a landlord must obtain a judgment for eviction against the tenant from District Court. The court then deliberates and decides in favor of landlord or tenant. If in favor of the landlord, the landlord must wait at least four business days, and no more than 60, before petitioning for a warrant of restitution. If granted, the landlord can evict the tenant, but only with the sheriff present.
Derita told officers that she is 2½ months behind rent — $750 per month — and that Frazier charges $50 late fees for tardy rent, according to the police report. Derita told police and later the Times that she had a verbal agreement with Frazier’s wife, Robin, a former county commissioner, to meet and discuss rent that evening, Oct. 19. Derita said the meeting did not happen and she has not spoken to Robin Frazier since the altercation.
Ellin said he does not believe Frazier had begun the eviction process and instead “tried to do so civilly,” turning it over to a collection agency as opposed to going to rent court. Ellin said he was unsure why his client took that route.
Derita told the Times her son was home from elementary school that day and stood by a nearby sofa as Frazier berated and shoved her. Before Frazier left the apartment, he slammed the family’s mail down on the couch, she said. “He goes an inch from my son’s face and says, ‘Your parents are liars, you’re getting evicted because of them. They’re hypocrites.’ ”
On Wednesday night, Frazier responded to a voicemail left by the Times seeking comment about the criminal summons with a text message. “It is a pre eviction rental dispute,” Frazier wrote, adding a “grinning face with smiling eyes” emoji. “Over 2200 dollars in arrears and given two 30 day vacancy warnings.”
The Taneytown Mayor and City Council debated, at their monthly workshop Wednesday, whether to reprimand Councilman Donald Frazier after he allegedly violated the city’s code of conduct by refusing to refund the city more than $1,000 it advanced him.
Derita said Thursday she had received one written vacancy warning from the Fraziers.
Frazier did not respond to a request for additional comment or acknowledge the assault and burglary charges Wednesday night. Frazier responded to another voicemail seeking specific comment on the accusations Thursday with a text message deferring to Ellin, his attorney.
Eventually Derita and her son left the apartment through a sliding glass door and ventured to the street, where she witnessed Frazier approaching his vehicle, she said.
“He starts running his mouth again,” she told the Times. “As my son’s calling 911, he’s saying, ‘you’re a hypocrite,’ you’re this, you’re that, and he’s cussing the whole time.”
Derita told officers that Frazier got in his vehicle and drove away when he heard that police were called, according to the report.
The Times obtained the son’s mostly unintelligible 911 call, which occurred at 7:48 a.m. Oct. 19. The boy’s voice intermittently broke through 3 minutes of hysteria. The young boy was noticeably distraught and the operator repeatedly asked him to take a deep breath and slow down.
“I can’t hardly understand you ... OK?” the operator said.
But the 9-year-old managed to articulate crucial information: his name, the address, that the incident involved his landlord and that he needed police.
“... and then the landlord screamed and pushed my mom and threatened her,” the boy told the operator toward the end of the call.
Maryland State Police fielded the 911 call and dispatched officers from the Taneytown Police Department at 7:53 a.m. One of the Taneytown police officers that authored the report wrote that he repeatedly tried to make contact with Frazier at his home Oct. 19 to no avail.
Taneytown police said they made contact with Frazier this week regarding the summons.
Frazier has been disciplined three times by his peers on the Taneytown City Council for violating the city’s code of conduct.
He was first censured in 2015 for his conduct, lack of decorum and harassing city employees; again in 2017 for posting a photos of a privileged letter from the city attorney to a political Facebook page; and most recently in September after he balked on a commitment to attend a Maryland Municipal League conference for which the city fronted him more than $1,000.