In a rather bizarre case, a Maryland State Trooper recently pled guilty to perjury and misconduct in office for falsifying DUI arrests. The guilty plea was heard in the Baltimore County Circuit Court just a couple of weeks after the trooper was formally charged by the Attorney General’s Office. It does not appear that the 36-year old trooper was ever arrested, as his case did not originate in the district court as a typical statement of charges. According to facts presented in the guilty plea the trooper made 6 fake DUI arrests over the course of the last two years. He authored completely falsified citations and police reports and submitted the same to the District Court Clerk and the State’s Attorney’s Office. The fake citations and reports turned into actual court cases, and fictitious defendants were summoned to appear for court. When these ghost defendants did not show up for court the judges ordered bench warrants to issue, and in some cases, officers actually responded to fake addresses to arrest fake people for failing to appear in court. The trooper, who has been with the MSP for about 10 years, was a corporal in the specialized DUI enforcement unit, which has been lauded for its effectiveness. The whole situation is even stranger considering the fact that the State Police denies the existence of numerical requirements for DUI arrests. The trooper, who is currently suspended with pay, may have felt pressure to up his numbers, but there may have been more to this story.
The trooper was charged at the end of July and elected to immediately have his lawyer begin plea negotiations. The AG’s office did not agree to dismiss either of the two counts pursuant to a guilty plea, but likely did not push too hard for an active jail sentence. After accepting his guilty plea, the judge sentenced the soon to be former trooper to a suspended jail sentence and supervised probation. As a condition of his probation the trooper will have to perform 300 hours of community service and pay a $6,000 fine, which is no slap on the wrist. On the other hand, avoiding jail time and a felony conviction under these circumstances is certainly a victory for the defense. Had the trooper received some sort of financial gain for his misconduct the result may have been different, but his intentions were not so devious as they were just strange. The trooper tried to cover his tracks to some extent; all of his fake drunk driving suspects refused their breathalyzer tests, which meant he did not have to include fake breath alcohol test results in the reports. On the other hand, breathalyzer tests are conducted by a certified breath tech so fabricating these reports would have required an accomplice. A breath tech being in on this crime would have been one of the few things to make this story more bizarre.
Perjury, which is a misdemeanor with a 10-year maximum penalty, is not a particularly common criminal charge in Maryland because it is difficult to prove a person was lying under oath. This officer was in a different position due to his sworn police reports and citations being easily proven as fictitious. We have posted numerous stories about charges involving misconduct in office, and unfortunately there is no shortage of government authority figures breaking the law these days. It seems like state lawmakers, mayors, city administrators and police officers are routinely appearing as defendants in criminal court, and the media is always there to report on their cases. The Blog will continue to follow public corruption cases so stay tuned. Benjamin Herbst is a Maryland criminal defense lawyer who is also licensed to practice in all state and federal courts including Baltimore County, Montgomery County and Anne Arundel County. Benjamin is also an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer who specializes in perjury, misconduct in office, drug offenses, gun crimes, theft and fraud. Call Benjamin anytime for a free consultation at 410-207-2598.
Md. trooper wrote DWI tickets to fictitious drivers, pleads guilty to perjury, washingtonpost.com.