U.S. agent's car stolen doctored report released Captain's name attached to fax

October 07, 1993|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff Writer

A federal agent who reported his car, with 7,000 rounds of ammunition in the trunk, stolen in Glen Burnie in August tried to get a county police officer to change the time of the incident in his report and to remove references to the agent's use of alcohol.

According to sources and copies of the reports obtained by The Sun, Officer William Selander refused.

However, a copy of the report, altered to federal agent Mark K. Novak's specifications, was faxed from the Northern District station to federal investigators with the signature of the district commander, Capt. Gary Barr, on the cover sheet.

The fax, sources said, was sent just minutes after Captain Barr told Officer Selander that he would not alter the report and promised to fax it to agents at the U.S. Department of Transportation, where Mr. Novak works, who were looking into the theft of his car.

Federal officials were investigating the incident because the ammunition, a 9 mm handgun and papers in Mr. Novak's car belonged to the government.

The county department's Internal Affairs Unit, which received a tip about the incident, investigated Capt. Barr's role in it but decided in September not to level charges against him.

That decision has angered some officers who believe the incident has been covered up.

"A lot of the officers are upset," said one Northern District officer who asked not to be identified.

He added, "[County police Chief Robert Russell] is good friends with Captain Barr, so that kind of canned the whole thing."

Other officers suggested that bringing administrative charges against a captain would have embarrassed Mr. Russell, whose administration has been plagued with sex and steroids scandals in the past year.

Captain Barr could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Police spokesman Terry Crowe said department officials would not comment on the case.

Mr. Novak would not comment, either.

It was unclear why he wanted the report changed.

The incident began about 2:40 a.m. Aug. 23 when Mr. Novak called county police from a pay phone outside the YMCA in Glen Burnie and reported that his 1993 Ford Taurus had been stolen.

According to the internal documents and sources, he told Officer Selander that he had stopped near Greenway and Maple Avenues and walked into the woods to urinate, leaving his keys in the ignition.

When he returned, he found that his car was gone.

Mr. Novak told the officer that he left a 9 mm handgun and federal papers inside the car in addition to the ammunition. Mr. Novak identified himself as a former county police officer who had attended the police academy with Captain Barr.

He also said he had been in the Sunset Lounge on Greenway.

The documents said that Officer Selander could smell alcohol on Mr. Novak's breath and noted that in his report.

According to sources, Mr. Novak called the station about an hour after he talked to Officer Selander to report that he had found the car -- along with the ammunition and gun -- a few blocks away.

It never has been clear what happened to the car.

Later that afternoon, Captain Barr called Officer Selander at his home and told him that Mr. Novak was in his office, complaining that there were errors in the officer's report.

Mr. Novak took the phone to ask Officer Selander to change the time of the original report to 12:40 a.m. and to take out the reference to alcohol use, fretting that he could lose his job if his superiors found out that he had been out drinking while there was ammunition in the car.

He also told the officer that there were messages in the officer's mail box at Northern District station from a U.S. Department of Transportation investigator.

About a half hour later, Captain Barr called Officer Selander back and told him he would not alter the report and that he would fax a copy of the report to William Tompkins, a federal agent who was looking into the theft of Mr. Novak's car.

He told Officer Selander not to call Mr. Tompkins and to refer federal agents who asked him for a copy of the report to central records, where the original was filed.

Mr. Tompkins did not return telephone calls yesterday.

Although station attendants told Officer Selander that he had received several messages from Mr. Tompkins, he found none in his box, the sources said.

But he did find a handwritten note inside a sealed envelope from Mr. Novak, who said he made the changes he wanted on the report. Mr. Novak also wrote that he had told Captain Barr that he would take care of faxing it to the federal investigator.

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