A Baltimore County jury did not accept a state trooper's claim yesterday that he was just doing his job when he was arrested in April and accused of soliciting a sex act from a plainclothes policewoman.
The jury took about one hour to convict Trooper Melvin J. Fialkewicz Jr., 25, of solicitation for prostitution, a misdemeanor.
Trooper Fialkewicz, testifying at his Circuit Court trial, said he was offering help to a woman walking down Pulaski Highway -- but switched into a law-enforcement mode when told she was "working."
An evasive series of questions answered by questions ensued, leading to a $40 deal and the trooper's arrest that evening of April 20.
The woman who Trooper Fialkewicz said looked out of place was Baltimore County Police Officer Joan C. Wheeler-Felts. She told the jury that she was working undercover in jeans, boots and a flannel shirt as part of Operation SPORT 40 -- Stop Prostitution on U.S. 40.
Trooper Fialkewicz, a six-year state police veteran on the midnight shift of the John F. Kennedy Highway barracks, said he was off duty and on his way to meet fellow troopers when the encounter took place.
About 8 p.m., he said, he saw "a woman walking down the road looking at traffic." Although he knew the area was frequented by prostitutes, he said, "She looked like a normal person to me. She looked out of place."
He was late meeting his friends, he said, but pulled his Jeep Cherokee over because "it's my job to protect the citizens of Maryland." He asked whether she needed a ride.
When the woman told him, "I'm working. What do you want?" he said, he realized the woman was a prostitute. "I'm a Maryland state trooper 24 hours a day. You always are obligated to enforce the laws of Maryland."
He testified that as part of their conversation, he asked the woman, "Are you a cop?" -- intending, he said, "to relieve her fears that I might be a cop -- reverse psychology."
Officer Wheeler-Felts testified that the trooper was "extremely nervous." She said that when she asked what he wanted for his $40, he replied, "I don't know. I don't feel comfortable with saying it."
"You don't feel comfortable saying sex?" she said she replied, and he answered, "I want everything."
"I said, 'You want sex for $40?' she said. "He said, 'Yes, sex for $40.' "
The trooper said he planned to call county police to arrest the woman once the deal was struck, but never got a chance to explain.
Judge Barbara Kerr Howe imposed a one-year suspended sentence. The trooper, who declined comment, remains suspended with pay pending administrative action.