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Crime

Judge orders new trial for veteran Baltimore Police officer charged with overtime fraud

A city judge ordered a new trial for a veteran Baltimore Police officer convicted of overtime fraud by a jury, finding the officer “was indisputably working every minute of overtime he claimed.”

Tuesday’s ruling from retired Prince George’s County Circuit Judge Steven I. Platt, who presided over the October trial of Sgt. Robert Dohony, comes after a jury found Dohony guilty of attempted theft of between $100 and $1,500 and misconduct in office.

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“Dohony admitted he made ‘mistakes’ that perhaps deserved to be sanctioned administratively by the Baltimore City Police Department, what he did and didn’t do, while he was indisputably working every minute of the overtime he claimed, in the opinion of the court, did not come close to constituting the elements of the crimes with which he was charged,” Platt wrote in the order Tuesday.

Online court records do not yet show a new trial date.

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A 29-year veteran of the department, Dohony was a detective investigating shootings at the time of his alleged crimes in 2018.

At the time, a prosecutor from Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office authorized overtime for Dohony to listen to jail calls, according to charging papers. The sergeant said he listened to seven of an inmate’s calls and put in for 10 hours of overtime, split between two days.

The prosecutor, Assistant State’s Attorney Matthew Pillion, checked the system authorities use to listen to jail calls and discovered Dohony spent 90 minutes monitoring calls and hadn’t listened to any calls on one of the dates he sought overtime for, charging documents show.

Mosby’s office reported Dohony shortly thereafter. Police wrote in the 2020 charging document that Dohony “expressed remorse” and was overwhelmed by his responsibilities that day.

Originally suspended after his charges, Dohony returned to work. A Baltimore police spokesperson said Wednesday that Dohony is assigned to “administrative duties” but his “police powers continue to be suspended.”

A spokeswoman for Mosby’s office declined to comment.

Special prosecutor Steven Kroll, of the Maryland State’s Attorney’s Association, tried the case for the state because Mosby’s office had a conflict of interest. Kroll could not be reached for comment.

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Pillion, now a homicide prosecutor, and his supervisor at the time, now city Circuit Judge Charles Blomquist, were witnesses in the case. Both testified during Dohony’s trial.

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In order to convict him off trying to steal salary from his employer, prosecutors had to prove Dohony attempted to be compensated for hours he didn’t work, wrote the sergeant’s attorney, Chaz Ball, in a Nov. 15 motion asking for the charges to be dropped or, in lieu of a dismissal, a new trial.

Ball wrote that he confronted the prosecution’s lead investigator at trial with a document “irrefutably confirming Sgt. Dohony was at his place of work, during all hours for which” he requested overtime. Dohony was not only confirmed to be at work, but working beyond his normal hours, Ball wrote.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Ball declined to comment.

At the end of the trial, the judge told jurors the only way they could find Dohony guilty of misconduct in office was if they found he attempted overtime theft, according to Ball’s motion.

In his order, Platt said the motion for dismissal was moot but was compelled by the defense’s argument.

“He should not be tried again,” Platt wrote.


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