Anne Arundel County's top prosecutor said yesterday he did not have enough evidence to seek the indictment of Patricia Emory, the elementary school principal accused of being a drug kingpin.
But Frank Weathersbee, county state's attorney, said that does not mean he will close the 11-month investigation that led to the Oct. 29 arrest of 10 people, including Mrs. Emory and her husband, James. Police confiscated more than 400 pounds of marijuana and $320,000 in cash and other property in the all-night raid.
"Just as there is no crime in being 'married to the mob,' an individual cannot be indicted for being the wife of a drug kingpin," Mr. Weathersbee said in a written statement, "even though a briefcase containing over $10,000 and drug deal tally slips was found secreted under the marital bed."
Although state drug kingpin charges against Mrs. Emory expire on Friday, Mr. Weathersbee said, the grand jury can still indict her if additional evidence is found.
Even though Mr. Weathersbee left open the door to future grand jury action, E. Thomas Maxwell, Mrs. Emory's lawyer, said he was "considering this to mean that she is exonerated."
Flanked by her lawyers, who brought a bottle of champagne to her Pasadena home yesterday afternoon, Mrs. Emory said she was relieved that the "nightmare" was over and was not concerned about possible future actions by Mr. Weathersbee.
She said she hoped to go back to her job as principal of Severna Park Elementary School and will tell children who ask why this happened that "sometimes people make mistakes."
"I don't know who started the ball rolling on this or who decided to charge me," she said. "And I am not looking to point the finger at anyone right now."
Since her arrest, she has maintained her innocence and has taken a lie detector test that her lawyers say prove she was not part of what police call the largest marijuana ring in the county's history.
A grand jury indicted her husband, James Mitchell Emory, his brother, Roger Lee Emory, and three others on drug kingpin charges. They each face up to 40 years in prison.
Mrs. Emory, 45, was questioned for five hours before a grand jury Monday. The decision to appear was considered a gamble because she appeared without her lawyer and her testimony could have been used against her during a trial.
The 19-year veteran of the school system has been on administrative leave with pay since her arrest. She said she will notify her superiors of Mr. Weathersbee's decision. Jayne Doyle, spokeswoman for the county school system, would not comment yesterday.
Shirley Freienmuth, president of the Severna Park Elementary School PTA, said the failure to indict Mrs. Emory was not a shock to her.
Mrs. Freienmuth said the PTA, which has about 200 members, will not take a stand on Mrs. Emory's return to the school.
"This is too important an issue for the PTA to speak on as a single voice. We would expect her to return to school, but that decision is up to the superintendent and the board of education," she said. "Our PTA membership is encouraged to write letters . . . to the superintendent."