The Aegis
Harford County

Joseph Cassilly, former Harford County state’s attorney and disbarred lawyer, nominated to county ethics board

Joseph Cassilly, who served as Harford County state’s attorney for 36 years but was later disbarred for his actions in a high-profile murder case, has been nominated to the county ethics board by his brother, Harford County Executive Bob Cassilly.

Joseph Cassilly was one of five appointees to the board. Harford County Council President Patrick Vincenti said at the council meeting Tuesday night that councilors would not vote on the appointees until the next meeting. The other nominees are Dea S. Galloway, Deanne Snodgrass, Kirk Vollmecke and Allyson Whitacre.


Joseph Cassilly retired as state’s attorney in 2019. Two years later he was disbarred by Maryland’s highest court for withholding evidence and lying about it over the years in a case known as the Memorial Day Murders, a 1981 double killing in Abingdon. The Maryland Court of Appeals found the former prosecutor lied about documents that undermined the credibility of an FBI agent on the case.

Bob Cassilly said he appointed his brother to the ethics board because of his experience in the military and as state’s attorney, referring to him as a “model citizen and community volunteer for over 70 years.”


“I pledged in my campaign to maintain the highest standard of ethics in my administration,” Bob Cassilly said Thursday in a statement to The Aegis. “I appointed my brother Joe to the Board of Ethics because he has demonstrated throughout his life a commitment to ethics far surpassing anyone I have ever known.”

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County Council member Jacob Bennett said he thinks Joseph Cassilly’s appointment to the ethics board is unwise, and he plans to vote against it.

“I think that compromises their role as an executive body,” Bennett said. “It delegitimizes that board and the work that they do.”

Council member James Reilly said he has “no issues with Joseph Cassilly being on the Harford County ethics board.”

The remaining five council members did not immediately reply to requests for comment before The Aegis’ Thursday print deadline.

Henry Gibbons, chair of the Harford County Democratic Central Committee, urged the council to vote against Joseph Cassilly’s nomination to the board, saying that allowing him to serve would be entrusting “an important position that requires serious moral fiber to a man with a demonstrably weakened thread.”

Emma Peller, a member of the Harford County NAACP, also spoke against Joseph Cassilly’s appointment.

“Is this the best person for the job that can make ethical decisions on complex issues that arise during the operation of our county government?” Peller asked. “This is yet another example of the executive branch acting in their own interest, not the interest of the citizens of the county.”