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 in 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," says Mr. Scarborough, 38. "Two times I've been in trouble in my life, and both times I was trying to protect my property."
Last April, Mr. Scarborough was fired for refusing to answer police internal affairs officers investigating charges that he struck a 13-year-old boy who went into his yard to retrieve a ball. The trooper had been acquitted in court. He has appealed the dismissal and has a Circuit Court hearing April 30.
The fired trooper says his troubles result 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 went to court and charged that a swimming pool and deck he built were across the property line.
The Scarboroughs won the case and built an 8-foot wooden fence around the property.
Since then, Mr. Scarborough says, Ms. McIntire and her family and friends have repeatedly thrown stones, balls and bats over the fence.
But Ms. McIntire describes her neighbor as "paranoid," saying he provoked many of the confrontations.
Ms. McIntire says Mr. Scarborough cut branches from her trees that shaded his swimming pool and sawed off part of a birdhouse that was touching his fence. She says she once thought him a friendly, outgoing person. "Now he's a troublemaker. . . . I think he took his badge a little too far."
Mr. Scarborough says 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 says, citing complaints to the county dogcatcher and efforts to seek court restrictions.
"I set the stuff out, and apparently it was killing these other dogs."
Despite his trouble, Mr. Scarborough's work as a trooper deserves respect, says Mary MacKnight, a member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
She notes that he arrested 142 motorists for drunken driving in 1989 and 1990.