When an Owings Mills District Court judge told William Connelly of Glen Arm that his years of zoning violations would cost $500 in fines, Mr. Connelly pleaded poverty.
Judge Patricia S. Pytash imposed 100 hours of community service yesterday and told the 42-year-old junk car and truck collector that the county will select the type of service.
Mr. Connelly, who has battled county zoning inspectors, lawyers and judges for the past 10 years over the condition of his 40-acre property on Glen Arm Road, told the judge that she might as well send him to jail.
Judge Pytash agreed and sentenced him to 50 days, enough to pay off the $500 fine at $10 a day. At that point, Mr. Connelly turned on his heels and ran out of the courtroom.
All was resolved peacefully, however.
Judge Pytash, who had given Mr. Connelly seven days to clean up his junk at his last court hearing in January 1992, said he came back to court on his own 20 minutes after fleeing.
"He apologized and said he's had a lot on him," she said.
Because he ultimately agreed to the 100 hours of community service, she said she removed the 50-day jail term.
Mr. Connelly was charged with contempt of court for ignoring a 1987 injunction ordering that his yard and home be kept clear of junked cars, vehicle parts and an old truck body he was using for storage.
County zoning inspector Leonard Wasilewski said the case began in 1983 with a citation for an unauthorized junkyard. Over the years, he said, Mr. Connelly has removed most of the junk on his property, but he still had the truck body and a junked Volkswagen as late two months ago.
Yesterday, as his case came to court again, Mr. Connelly told Mr. Wasilewski that the truck body had been hauled away that morning. However, officials could not verify that, Judge Pytash said.
The judge said she was intent on meting out some punishment because Mr. Connelly ignored the seven-day deadline she had imposed in 1992.
Assuming that the truck body is gone and Mr. Connelly, who lives on the farm with his wife and three children, fulfills his community service, the case will be closed.
Mr. Connelly was not available for comment late yesterday.