The state's much ballyhooed investigation of insurance fraud showed further signs of unraveling yesterday when prosecutors dropped charges against three employees of a Baltimore medical clinic because a state trooper's testimony would have been tainted.
"It has become clear to the state the perception of taint remains and permeates this case," Christopher J. Romano, deputy chief of the Criminal Investigations Division of the attorney general's office, told a Baltimore Circuit Court judge.
Yesterday's development came three weeks after the attorney general's office dropped felony theft and insurance fraud charges against veteran Baltimore attorney Nelson R. Kandel. Three days into Mr. Kandel's trial, the integrity of the police sting that led to his arrest was destroyed.
The sting involved Cpl. Terri L. Taylor, who posed as an uninjured accident victim when she visited the lawyer's office. In fact, the state trooper had been injured in a car accident the day before the visit.
The trooper, now a sergeant, also participated in the investigation that led to charges of presenting false insurance claims and attempted theft against Dr. Reginald W. Stalling, who ran the Surgicare Medical Center on East Mount Royal Avenue. Two employees, Michael Jerome Sterrett and Ahmad Nourbakhsh, faced the same charges, as well as practicing medicine without a license.
Mr. Kandel and the medical clinic employees were the only people charged as a result of the 18-month investigation. Mr. Romano dropped the charges against the three despite what he called "the strong factual basis for these charges."
He declined to say whether other cases are tainted, too.