Arundel officer faces state probe Captain allegedly altered reports


Maryland's attorney general has agreed to probe allegations of misconduct against an Anne Arundel County police captain who was accused last month of altering a report to help a federal agent whose car -- containing 7,000 rounds of ammunition -- was stolen while he was drinking at a Glen Burnie bar.

Meanwhile, the county Police Department's internal affairs unit is investigating new charges that the captain, Gary Barr, commander of the Northern District station, altered another report, county police officials confirmed yesterday.

According to sources close to the internal investigation, the new allegations concern a report on an accident involving former county police Officer Donald Staten while he was on duty in April.

The sources said Captain Barr ordered a rookie officer who took the report to alter it to make the accident reflect badly on Mr. Staten, who had been the subject of other internal investigations for alleged improper behavior and was viewed as a problem for the department, the sources said.

The sources said the rookie officer did alter the report to Captain Barr's specifications but that it was not clear what was changed. The incident was forgotten but resurfaced when the allegations about the federal agent came to light, the sources said.

The report has since disappeared, the sources said.

"It's a total fabrication and a continuation of certain individual's attempts to discredit me," Captain Barr said yesterday of the new allegations. "I am confident that when they finish the investigation, I will be cleared."

Captain Barr, who received the department's Silver Star award three years ago for his role in catching two Marley Station Mall jewelry store robbers, would not comment on the attorney general's investigation.

Police Chief Robert Russell's request for that investigation stems from an incident in August in which an altered report on the theft of the federal agent's car was faxed to the U.S. Department of Transportation's inspector general's office from the Northern District station with Captain Barr's signature on the cover sheet.

The Transportation Department was investigating the incident because Mark K. Novak, one of its agents, had reported Aug. 23 the theft of his car, along with the ammunition, a 9 mm handgun and federal papers. The car and the ammunition were found later, and the agent has resigned, sources said.

Mr. Novak asked county Officer William Selander, who took the original car theft report, to change the time the car was stolen and to remove a reference to his drinking. Officer Selander refused, and Mr. Novak asked Captain Barr, the officer's commander and a friend from police academy days, to intervene.

The county Police Department's internal affairs unit, tipped off to the altered report, decided in September not to bring charges against Captain Barr. Officer Terry Crowe, a police spokesman, said Mr. Novak admitted faxing the altered report to his superiors and that an investigation by federal agents supported the county department's findings.

Officer Crowe said Chief Russell wants an impartial agency to reinvestigate the allegations to "remove the cloud of doubt that has been cast upon" the department.

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