Officer seeks information on penalty

An Anne Arundel County police officer who admitted having sex with an informant has asked a Circuit Court judge to order the Police Department to set his penalty for that violation of department rules so he can decide whether to accept it or ask for a trial board.

Sgt. Bret K. Ballam faces administrative charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and of violating department rules that bar narcotics officers from having sexual relationships with informants.


"Our position is, tell us what our punishment is going to be and let us know if we are going to need a trial board or not," Thomas A. Pavlinic, the sergeant's lawyer, told Judge Martin A. Wolff at a hearing Friday.

Judge Wolff agreed yesterday to postpone Sergeant Ballam's trial board hearing set for Monday until he reaches a decision in the next few weeks.


Sergeant Ballam sued the department's top officers last month, alleging that his rights were violated during the course of disciplinary action and calling for all administrative charges to be dropped.

He was charged administratively four months ago after an internal investigation and faces punishments ranging from fines to dismissal from his $40,134-a-year position.

Mr. Pavlinic said there has been no formal recommendation. But he said that he has been told that Lt. James M. Snow, commander of the internal affairs unit, will likely recommend a punishment that Sergeant Ballam could accept and avoid a trial board hearing.

In the event of a trial board hearing, the board's recommendation would be subject to review by police Chief Robert Russell, who could decide on a stiffer penalty.

Gail Watson, an assistant county attorney for the Police Department, said the police chief could overrule Lieutenant Snow's recommendation.

She argued Friday that under state statutes, the department is not required to make any initial recommendations of penalties prior to a trial board hearing.

"He's entitled to a trial board, but he's not entitled to any preliminary recommendations before that," she said.