2 more demoted after raid

June 22, 1994|By Scott Higham | Scott Higham,Sun Staff Writer

A headline in yesterday's Sun incorrectly described personnel movesat the Maryland State Police.

Maj. John Cook and Capt. Steven Geppi were transferred within the agency, but each retained his rank.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Two high-ranking state police officers involved in the investigation and raid of The Block have been transferred from their posts -- bringing to three the number of supervisors shifted in the midst of an internal probe into the undercover drug operation.

Maj. John Cook, who supervised the four-month Block investigation, has been transferred from the Bureau of Drug Enforcement to special operations. He will retain his rank in the new post, supervising the department's investigative division and other units.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

He will also retain control of the Block investigation and a probe into corruption claims at the city Liquor Board. According to search warrant affidavits, some Liquor Board employees accepted bribes from owners of Block bars and a board employee may have been a silent partner in one of the clubs.

Capt. Steven Geppi also has been removed from the drug bureau. Captain Geppi, who coordinated the Jan. 14 raid of nude dance bars in downtown Baltimore, was sent to the licensing division, a low-profile post at the agency. He, too, will retain his rank.

State Police Superintendent Larry W. Tolliver made the moves late last week. A spokesman for the superintendent refused to explain why the officers were transferred or say whether the moves are related to the Block investigation.

"It was a decision made by the superintendent to change management," Lt. Gregory Shipley said yesterday. "We won't discuss anything further."

Captain Geppi said he was not told why he was transferred to the licensing division, where troopers spend much of their time processing and tracking gun permits. "All they told me was they were making management changes."

Maj. Edward "Earl" Dennis Jr., commander of criminal intelligence, will take Major Cook's post. Capt. Guy E. Guyton Jr., commander of the licensing division, will take Captain Geppi's post.

Changes at the drug bureau come amid an internal probe into the conduct of undercover troopers assigned to the Block operation. At least three officers are under investigation.

Sgt. Warren Rineker, who shared a hotel room with the wife of a Block bar owner, has resigned. Cpl. Gary Manos and Trooper Gus Economides, under investigation following claims that they paid a nude dancer for sex, have been reassigned pending the investigation.

Prosecutors have since dropped nearly half of the drug cases stemming from the Block probe -- in part because the troopers, key witnesses, are themselves under investigation. Other cases were dropped because of weak or improperly obtained evidence.

Three supervising officers have now been transferred from the drug bureau since the Block investigation. Earlier this month, Colonel Tolliver removed the chief of the bureau, Thomas H. Carr, transferring him to an administrative post and demoting him two ranks, from lieutenant colonel to captain.

Some state police officers said demotion may have been politically inspired. In 1992, Captain Carr was a top candidate for the superintendent's job. Instead, Gov. William Donald Schaefer chose Colonel Tolliver -- then the chief of the governor's personal security squad.

Politics did not play a part in the transfer, Lieutenant Shipley said yesterday. "I don't want to respond to that other than to say, if that was the reason, why wasn't it done two years ago?" he said.

Since the demotion, local and federal drug agents in the region have selected Captain Carr to head a new task force -- based at the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington -- that will target high drug trafficking and distribution areas.

Colonel Tolliver approved Captain Carr's temporary assignment to the federal post, effective Monday.

STATE POLICE CHANGES

Here are some recent promotions at the Maryland State Police, effective July 1:

* Lt. Col. James E. Harvey becomes deputy superintendent, supervising all field operations. The 32-year veteran of the force now heads the administrative services bureau.

* Maj. Roland J. Meerdter becomes a lieutenant colonel, responsible for the administrative services bureau. The 26-year veteran of the force now is the assistant chief of the bureau.

*Capt. Michael C. Barnes, Capt. Raymond D. Cotton, Capt. Gary F. Cox and Capt. Charles R. Mazzone are being promoted to major.

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