State trooper accused of stealing $9,000 Undercover investigators set trap for policeman

September 20, 1996|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

On Wednesday morning, a state police trooper pulled over two "motorists" for speeding on Interstate 95. But later that day, the trooper was arrested -- charged with stealing $9,000 and suspended without pay.

Following up an allegation that Tfc. John Eugene Appleby previously had stolen drug money during a traffic stop, Maryland State Police set a trap for the nine-year highway patrol officer, who worked out of the John F. Kennedy barracks in Perryville.

The operation began Wednesday morning about 10 a.m., when two undercover Prince George's County police officers, wearing street clothes and driving a white late-model Mercury, sped south on I-95, near Havre de Grace.

Appleby, 29, pulled them over and gave the driver a citation for not wearing a seat belt. Then he asked to search the car.

"His suspicions [that there was drug money in the car] were aroused," said Capt. Greg Shipley, a state police spokesman.

Appleby found $60,000 in the trunk. He apparently believed it might be drug money and confiscated it, Shipley said. The two surrendered it amicably -- typical in drug cases, he said.

Appleby did not arrest the undercover officers posing as jTC motorists because carrying the cash was not a crime, police said.

He returned to the barracks in Perryville, turned over the money and filled out a property record form -- but listed $51,000 as the amount seized, police said.

State police immediately obtained a search warrant and searched Appleby's patrol car, finding $9,000 on the passenger's seat under papers, Shipley said. A check of the serial numbers showed that the money was part of the original $60,000, police said.

Appleby was charged at the barracks with one count of theft, then taken before a Harford County District Court commissioner. He was released without bail and faces a trial in Harford District Court on Jan. 8.

He was suspended without pay Wednesday night and could be fired if found guilty, Shipley said.

Appleby of Bel Air could not be reached last night for comment.

State police will continue to investigate the case and other allegations in cooperation with the state attorney general's office.

The trap was set in response to an allegation seven months ago that Appleby stole drug money during a traffic stop, said David Copperthite, an assistant attorney general in the criminal investigations division.

One of the state's 1,540 troopers was caught stealing money during an undercover search and seizure in 1994, Shipley said. The trooper resigned.

Pub Date: 9/20/96

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