1989 Md. Trooper of the Year fights for his job Fired officer appeals dismissal

March 25, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

DARLINGTON -- In three years, Jerry M. Scarborough has gone from the top gun in the state police to odd man out.

The Harford County resident was named the state police Trooper of the Year in 1989 for the dozens of drunken-driving arrests he made.

Now, he is fighting for his job, feuding with neighbors and facing six months' probation for poisoning three dogs that lived on his street.

Mr. Scarborough was sentenced March 11 to supervised probation and ordered to pay $321 restitution to the owners of the three poisoned dogs.

Two dogs were owned by Stephen and Deborah Bova, while a third dog was owned by another neighbor.

A District Court judge found that Mr. Scarborough put meat laced with antifreeze in the yard of his Darlington home in October.

"I'm the same person I've always been. I believe in the same things," Mr. Scarborough, 38, said. "Two times I've been in trouble in my life, and both times I was trying to protect my property."

In April, Mr. Scarborough was fired after a police internal affairs investigation into charges that he struck a 13-year-old boy who went into his yard to retrieve a ball. He has appealed the dismissal.

The fired trooper said both incidents resulted from a long-standing feud with his next-door neighbor.

Mr. Scarborough and his wife moved to the 3700 block of Dublin Road in 1971, six years before he joined the state police.

He and his neighbor, Dorothy McIntire, began feuding in 1985 when she challenged him in court over a swimming pool and deck he built that she claimed crossed the property line.

The Scarboroughs won the case and built an 8-foot wooden fence around the property.

Since then, Mr. Scarborough claims, Ms. McIntire, her family and friends have repeatedly harassed and taunted him by throwing stones, balls and bats over the fence.

But Ms. McIntire tells a different story. She described her neighbor as "paranoid," saying he provoked many of the confrontations between the families.

Ms. McIntire recalled when Mr. Scarborough cut branches from trees in her yard that shaded his swimming pool and sawed off part of a birdhouse that was touching his fence. She said she once viewed her neighbor as a friendly, outgoing person. "Now he's a troublemaker. . . . I think he took his badge a little too far."

Mr. Scarborough said after his conviction in the death of the dogs that the poisoned meat was meant for Ms. McIntire's poodle and German shepherd, which had been going into his yard frequently to defecate.

"I tried every avenue I could by the law to keep the dogs off my property," he said, citing complaints he made to the county dogcatcher and efforts to seek court restrictions to keep the dogs out of his yard.

"I set the stuff out, and apparently it was killing these other dogs."

Deborah Bova said she never had a problem with the Scarboroughs before the incident. "If the dogs were bothering him, he never complained," said Mrs. Bova, whose family has lived two houses away from the Scarboroughs for nine years. "We just kept to ourselves."

Despite the trouble he's had, Mr. Scarborough's work as a trooper deserves respect, said Mary MacKnight, a member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

She noted that the trooper arrested 142 motorists for drunken driving in 1989 and 1990. "I found it hard to believe you would take your trooper of the year and terminate him," she said. "They had somebody they should be very proud of."

The trooper's dismissal followed an internal affairs investigation of a June 21, 1990, confrontation Mr. Scarborough had with friends of Ms. McIntire, court records show.

Mr. Scarborough was charged with assault and battery in a private complaint filed by the mother of a 13-year-old boy, who claimed Mr. Scarborough struck the youth when he went into the trooper's yard to retrieve a ball.

The trooper was found innocent during a November 1990 jury trial in Circuit Court. After the trial, the trooper refused to answer any questions, invoking his constitutional rights, at a police interrogation session. He was charged and later found guilty of failing to obey a superior's order and refusing to submit to an interrogation.

A police hearing board recommended that Mr. Scarborough be suspended for five days and lose 80 hours of annual leave for each charge. But the state police superintendent, Col. Elmer H. Tippett Jr., overruled the board and dismissed the trooper.

Mr. Scarborough's appeal of the dismissal is scheduled for an April 30 Circuit Court hearing.

"I'm at the very bottom of the barrel," he said. "We have no idea what the outcome will be. This has destroyed any good memories."

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