Harford Co. jail chief is retiring

April 17, 1993|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Staff Writer

The chief of the Harford County Detention Center, who reportedly had been under pressure to leave his post because of concerns about the jail's leadership, said yesterday that he's retiring.

Maj. E. Dale Zepp, a veteran of 34 years in the sheriff's office, told Sheriff Robert E. Comes that he will leave the post June 30, said Stuart Jay Robinson, Major Zepp's attorney.

Sheriff Comes said he and his chief deputy, Lt. Col. Thomas P. Broumel, will oversee the operation of the 308-bed county jail until someone is named to take over Major Zepp's responsibilities as chief of court and correctional services.

Sheriff Comes said he hoped to hire a warden to run the Detention Center as soon as possible, but that the position would have to be advertised.

Recent allegations of mismanagement had prompted County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann and State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly to co-sign a letter April 8, asking Gov. William Donald Schaefer to order the attorney general's office to conduct an investigation.

County government officials, who asked that their names not be published, said that Major Zepp was under pressure to retire because of recent controversies at the Detention Center, including that involving the jail's handling of the suspicious death of an inmate found strangled with a pillowcase in his cell March 1, 1992.

Already, the sheriff's office, which oversees the jail, the Harford state's attorney's office and the FBI have investigated the death of William Martin Ford, a 28-year-old Delaware man who was serving 30 days for drunken driving. No one has been charged.

Mrs. Rehrmann said last night that she had received a call from theattorney general's office yesterday, agreeing to proceed with investigation.

The executive also said that her administration is drafting legislation aimed at transferring control of the detention center from the sheriff's office to the county.

Mrs. Rehrmann said that she agreed to Sheriff Comes' request that John O'Neil, procurement director for the county, run the detention center temporarily beginning Monday.

Mr. Robinson stressed that Major Zepp had considered retiring after completing 30 years of service, but agreed to stay to help Sheriff Comes. The call for a state investigation had no bearing on Major Zepp's decision to retire, Mr. Robinson said.

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