EASTON -- Five days after he was named acting head of the Talbot County Sheriff's Department, Edward W. Keyton yesterday was stripped of his police powers and forbidden from entering the office he took over from his friend, convicted former Sheriff John J. Ellerbusch Jr.
Circuit Judge William S. Horne yesterday signed an ex parte injunction ordering Mr. Keyton to give up command of the Sheriff's Department after county officials filed suit claiming that Ellerbusch illegally hired Mr. Keyton as his second-in-command.
Ellerbusch hired Mr. Keyton as his chief deputy Monday morning. Two hours later in Circuit Court, Ellerbusch was found guilty of misconduct for misusing more than $73,000 in department funds.
Ellerbusch was immediately suspended from office -- leaving Mr. Keyton in command -- and was sentenced Thursday to one year in prison.
The County Council asked Mr. Keyton, a former St. Michaels chief who lives in Prince George's County, to resign from the Sheriff's Department.
When he refused, county officials filed the civil suit.
Mr. Keyton learned of his removal by telephone at his home in Bowie.
"This just adds more insult to it all," Mr. Keyton said, but he added that he will abide by the judge's ruling.
A hearing will be held on the temporary injunction next month.
The county's suit charged that Ellerbusch improperly hired Mr. Keyton as chief deputy -- the second ranking position in the department -- because Mr. Keyton was not already working as a deputy.
According to state law, the chief deputy must be picked from among the existing deputies.
While local officials wait for Gov. William Donald Schaefer to appoint an acting sheriff, a decision that could come next week, 1st Sgt. Edward G. A. Henry has been named acting officer in charge.