Staubitz arrested in thefts Convicted ex-state official charged in house break-ins

September 26, 1993|By Peter Hermann and Mary Maushard | Peter Hermann and Mary Maushard,Staff Writers

John M. Staubitz Jr., the former state health official convicted of skimming thousands of dollars in the State Games scandal last year, was in jail again yesterday -- charged with breaking into four Carroll County homes and stealing at least $20,000 worth of property.

State police arrested the former deputy health secretary, who was released from prison four months ago, Friday afternoon after a nine-day investigation into break-ins at houses in Westminster, Manchester and Hampstead.

But police said yesterday that as many as eight more houses in Howard and Baltimore counties and Baltimore City may have been hit by Mr. Staubitz and an accomplice, Robert Ernest Emmons Jr., 29.

"We are still trying to put this thing together," said state police Sgt. Ronald S. Mosco, of the Westminster barracks. "We have two truckloads of stuff to go through." Police said they are conservatively estimating the haul at $20,000.

Police said they still were cataloging the recovered items, which included electronic components, silver flatware and guns.

Mr. Staubitz, 45, of the 6900 block of Pinecrest Road in Catonsville, and Mr. Emmons, of the 5200 block of Kramme Ave. in Brooklyn Park, Anne Arundel County, were each charged with 17 counts, including four felony theft and three felony burglary charges.

Both men were being held last night in lieu of $100,000 bail at the Carroll County Detention Center and are scheduled for a bail-review hearing tomorrow at District Court in Westminster.

Court documents say the men were arrested after allegedly RTC trying to use a credit card reported stolen from one of the houses to make purchases at two department stores in Owings Mills and then selling some of the stolen items at a pawn shop.

Also, a security guard at the Owings Mills Hecht's store, who also works for the state prison system, told police she recognized Mr. Emmons from a previous incarceration.

It was not until Mr. Emmons was arrested Friday while driving a white Chevrolet on William Street in South Baltimore that police suspected Mr. Staubitz, whose name appeared on the rental agreement for the car, court documents show.

As deputy health secretary, Mr. Staubitz was second in command of Maryland's $2 billion-a-year health department when legislative auditors in 1990 revealed improprieties in the State Games, a relatively small program that he supervised.

The State Games program was established to promote amateur athletics, ostensibly as a means of discouraging young people from using drugs.

In May 1992, Mr. Staubitz was convicted of conspiracy to commit misconduct in office. He entered an Alford plea. While legally the same as a guilty plea, it allowed him to continue to assert his innocence while acknowledging that the state had enough evidence to convict him.

That evidence included anticipated testimony that during a government-financed trip to Las Vegas in 1989, he gambled and played golf and "did not conduct any state business whatsoever," according to a statment of facts read in court by the prosecutor.

Mr. Staubitz, who has maintained his innocence, also was accused of using $2,000 in state drug-abuse-prevention money to finance gambling during a 1990 trip to Miami, and using state money to give his mother a weekend vacation in Western Maryland.

But before he could be sentenced in July 1992, Mr. Staubitz left town. He was arrested in August in a Las Vegas motel room after authorities followed a trail of receipts and airline and hotel reservations.

In October, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison and fined $15,000. He was released from the Central Laundry, a minimum-security prison in Carroll County, on June 23. The term included time served from Aug. 21, 1992, when he was arrested in Las Vegas.

Police now charge him with breaking into the four Carroll County houses.

One break-in occurred Sept. 14 in the 200 block of Upper Beckleysville Road, Hampstead. Two days later, police contend Mr. Staubitz and Mr. Emmons broke into three houses, one in the 2400 block of Ebbvale Road, Manchester, and two in Westminster, in the 2500 block of Albert Hill Road and in the 2000 block of Manchester Road.

The break-in on Manchester Road led Trooper Mark Long to Mr. Staubitz and Mr. Emmons, court documents state.

While Trooper Long was investigating the break-in, a security guard at Macy's department store at Owings Mills mall called the homeowner and said two men were trying to use her credit card.

The officer drove to the store, where he learned the men also had tried to use the credit cards at a nearby Hecht's store. Both stores had videotaped the suspects.

In addition, a Hecht's security guard, Audrie Marie Watson, whose full-time job is with the Maryland Division of Correction, told Trooper Long that "she believed she knew the identity of one of the suspects . . . from a previous incarceration," the charging documents say.

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