Ex-Westminster planner acquitted in disk theft City work done on home computer BTC

November 18, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

A former Westminster employee was acquitted by a Carroll County judge yesterday on charges of stealing computer software registered to the city.

The acquittal was a surprise to Kevin Charles Bode, who went to court expecting to be found guilty of felony theft, said Charles O. Fisher Jr., his defense attorney.

"My client had a deal that was a sort of bird-in-the-hand that would keep him free of a criminal record," Mr. Fisher said.

Mr. Bode pleaded not guilty but allowed a prosecutor to read into the record a statement of facts sufficient to find him guilty. Such a pleading almost always results in a guilty finding.

In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dropped three additional charges, agreed to return Mr. Bode's home computer and to recommend a probation before judgment finding, which would wipe the conviction from Mr. Bode's record if he successfully completed probation.

At first, Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. found Mr. Bode guilty, but he changed his mind after Mr. Fisher argued that the statement of facts read by Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III did not adequately prove his client's guilt.

Mr. Walker said yesterday that he wasn't disappointed or angered by the judge's decision.

Mr. Bode, of the 1400 block of Hallowell Lane in New Windsor, was charged with felony theft, destroying public records, accessing records without permission and illegal access to a computer. Court documents said Mr. Bode removed a computer diskette containing a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet program from a City Hall computer shortly before he resigned as a planning supervisor in early February 1992.

Mr. Fisher argued that while his client did possess the diskette, he didn't intend to steal it. In fact, Mr. Fisher said, Mr. Bode had the Lotus spreadsheet at home because he routinely did city work on his home computer.

"My client had no guilty knowledge," Mr. Fisher said. He said that as soon as Mr. Bode learned the city was looking for the software, he returned it to Westminster police.

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