Judge upholds state trooper's demotion, citing evidence of attempt to fix ticket Allegation involved D.C. hockey player

November 08, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

An Anne Arundel circuit judge yesterday denied a state trooper's request to reverse her demotion, ruling that the penalty was not excessively harsh for allegedly trying to fix a speeding ticket.

Judge Lawrence H. Rushworth said there was substantial evidence that Trooper Kimberly Brooks offered hockey tickets to another trooper two years ago if he would drop speeding charges against a Washington Capitals hockey player.

A police trial board held a hearing and found Brooks guilty of administrative violations and demoted her in October 1995.

"The [trial] board considered all of the mitigating evidence, including the Appellant's commendable service history. That history does not, however, alter the seriousness of the board's findings," Rushworth wrote in a five-page decision.

Brooks, who won a commendation for her role in a 1991 shootout, had filed suit in Circuit Court asking for a court order to reverse her demotion for allegedly trying to arrange the dismissal of speeding charges against center Michal Pivonka.

Benjamin R. Wolman, Brooks' lawyer, told Rushworth that the penalty cost his client $4,500 and that Brooks was treated more harshly than the others involved in the incident.

"There's a real disparity in the punishments," Wolman told Rushworth at a hearing Oct. 30.

Pivonka was issued a ticket May 4, 1994, by Trooper James R. Pendock for driving 86 mph in a 55 mph section of U.S. 50 near Annapolis, according to court records.

Pivonka, 30, of the 200 block of South River Landing Road, Edgewater, asked a member of the Capitals' security staff to help minimize the potential points on his driving record, according to court records.

James Wiseman, the security official, contacted state police Sgt. William E. Brooks III, assigned to the College Park barracks and a part-time Capitals employee. William Brooks agreed to help and contacted his sister, Kimberly Brooks, who was assigned to the Annapolis barracks, according to court records.

Kimberly Brooks approached Pendock outside the Annapolis District Court Aug. 23, 1994, the day the speeding charge was to be heard and allegedly offered the hockey tickets, court records say.

A few minutes later, Pendock told Judge Clayton Greene that he "had left his notes at home and could not proceed with the case," prompting a not guilty verdict, according to court records.

Afterward, one of Pendock's superiors questioned him, then filed the administrative complaint that led to Brooks' demotion, the court records say.

William Brooks lost five days of leave, and Pendock was suspended for 15 days. But Kimberly Brooks was demoted for one year from trooper first class to trooper and was suspended for 15 days.

Kimberly Brooks declined comment yesterday.

Pub Date: 11/08/96

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