Report in officer inquiry sent to state's attorney


Internal affairs detectives completed yesterday their investigation of a county police officer suspected of trying to extort $500 from a man he accused of fondling himself in Queenstown Park and sent the information to the state's attorney.

Sgt. Robert Johnson, a county police spokesman, said the case would go to the grand jury, which is not scheduled to meet for 10 days. Police have refused to identify the accused officer, who remains suspended with pay.

"We will wait until the grand jury hearing before releasing any more information on him," said Sergeant Johnson, explaining that the department cannot release the name until the officer has been formally charged.

"We had the option to file criminal charges right away. We gave the entire package to the state's attorney's office at 10 a.m.," Sergeant Johnson said yesterday. The matter would have gone to the grand jury in any case, he said.

State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee did not return calls to his office yesterday.

The officer allegedly accused a man of fondling himself in Queenstown Park last Thursday and demanded $500 to forget about the incident, police said.

Detectives from the internal affairs unit -- alerted by a relative of the man -- put $100 in an envelope Friday afternoon and put it under a trash can at the north end of the park. They staked out the park and watched the officer retrieve the money, police said.

Detectives searched the officer later that evening at his home. They found the envelope containing the $100 bill on his person.

Queenstown Park is notorious for sexual activity, according to Sergeant Johnson.

"It's one of several places within the county where we've traditionally had those problems," he said.

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