City liaison, wife charged with assault after arguing

Mayor Martin O'Malley's liaison to city neighborhood groups and his wife were arrested Tuesday after he allegedly punched her in the face and she reportedly retaliated by pointing a loaded handgun at him, city police said yesterday.

Richard Burton, 32, who led the mayor's campaign to clean up trash - the Super Spring Sweep Thing - and was instrumental in harnessing community support for the new police commissioner, was suspended two days with pay.


O'Malley issued a prepared statement yesterday saying that Burton also has been referred to the city's employee counseling service.

"Because of the personal nature of this incident," the statement says, "the Mayor's office will have no further comment pending completion of the judicial and legal processes."


Neither Burton nor his wife, Crystal, 30, could be reached for comment yesterday. Their next court date is scheduled for Aug. 3.

A source close to O'Malley said the mayor was angry that Mr. Burton told the arresting officer he worked for City Hall - a statement the source said should not have been made because the incident had no connection with his job.

"Mr. Burton stated that he was the assistant for the mayor's office," arresting Officer Eric L. Thomas wrote in his report.

Police said they recovered two handguns from Burton's West Baltimore house in the 900 block of N. Carrollton Ave. - a .38-caliber revolver loaded with five bullets and a .380 semiautomatic loaded with eight bullets.

O'Malley's spokesman, Tony White, said the .380 was properly registered to Mr. Burton, and no ownership record could be found for the revolver.

Mr. Burton, an actor, was handpicked by O'Malley for the community liaison job because of his knowledge of community groups, White said. He represents O'Malley at neighborhood meetings and answers to Deputy Mayor Laurie Schwartz.

Police said Mrs. Burton called 911 to report an assault about 1 a.m. Tuesday, after the couple had returned from a gathering where both had been drinking.

Mrs. Burton told police that she had been struck in the face with a closed fist, according to court documents filed yesterday. Mr. Burton told police, "She pointed a gun at me," the court documents say.


Mr. Burton, according to the records, said the couple got into a "heated argument" on the second floor of their home that involved "pushing and shoving each other." He said his wife pointed a gun at him and then ran downstairs.

Police said they found the revolver in a dresser drawer in the third-floor master bedroom, and the semiautomatic in a living room closet. The police report says that neither Burton showed visible signs of injury.

Mr. Burton was charged with second-degree assault. Mrs. Burton was charged with first-degree and second-degree assault; using a handgun in commission of a violent crime and handgun possession.