No immediate disciplinary action will be taken in response to the filing of criminal charges against Baltimore District Judge Askew W. Gatewood Jr., a spokesman for the Maryland judiciary said yesterday.
"The court will let the legal process work. Judge Gatewood has been a judge for more than 23 years. These charges do not relate to his performance on the bench," said the spokesman, Darrell S. Pressley.
A lawyer for Gatewood said he did not expect the charges -- stemming from allegations that the judge failed to clean up hundreds of tons of construction rubble dumped on his waterfront property in Anne Arundel County -- to have any effect on Gatewood's judgeship.
"He's innocent," said the lawyer, John F. Dougherty, who has said that his client was performing shoreline restoration work to repair damage from 2003's Tropical Storm Isabel on his secondary home on Bay Road. County inspectors said they found no evidence of damage.
State Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler filed criminal charges against Gatewood Jan. 18, including allegations of unlawfully filling a wetland, unlawful dumping, construction without a sediment-control plan and water pollution. The attorney general's office filed a civil complaint against him in November, seeking a $10,000 penalty, alleging that an inspector observed masonry rubble, asphalt, broken bathroom fixtures, electrical wiring, chunks of concrete and fine dust along Gatewood's 470 feet of shoreline. The county sought the maximum $8,500 fine against Gatewood for not obtaining grading permits.
Gatewood has been a Baltimore District Court judge since 1984. He is also president and sole owner of Monumental City Realty Corp., a real estate development company.
If convicted on all charges, he could be sentenced to seven years in prison and $75,000 in fines.