18-month sentence imposed on state trooper Misconduct case centers on missing marijuana

December 10, 1997|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

A man whose job it was to send criminals to jail is now going behind bars himself.

Howard Circuit Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. sentenced state Trooper John M. Hurley to 18 months in the county detention center yesterday for misconduct in office.

Hurley -- a decorated trooper who now manages a pawn shop -- soon will be formally fired from the force, his attorney indicated in court. He had been suspended.

Hurley's case offers many mysteries and few answers. In November, Hurley pleaded guilty to misconduct in office after he could not account for 166 pounds of marijuana he was entrusted to store for six different cases.

Hurley often was responsible for drugs that were seized during investigations and intended to be stored in the state police property room in Columbia.

Yesterday in court, Assistant Attorney General Carolyn Henneman called Hurley a "thief, a cheat, a corrupt officer, a liar." But she admitted that she could not prove that Hurley benefited from the missing marijuana.

Hurley told Kane that he never smoked or sold any evidence. He said that 40 pounds of marijuana -- wrapped like Christmas presents -- was stolen from the back of his car, and he was so worried about losing his job that he took other marijuana from the evidence room to cover it up.

"I did not intend to commit a crime," said Hurley, 36, of Pasadena. "All I was trying to do was protect myself."

His former supervisor said he wasn't totally surprised at the charges against Hurley. He was always working very hard and not slowing down to do all the right paperwork and make sure every thing was in order, said Lt. Gerald M. Kreiner.

"Forty pounds being stolen out of the back of his car did not surprise me because he always had a lot going," Kreiner testified. "I trusted him, and I still trust him."

Hurley said he threw away some of the marijuana because of disagreements with federal agents running a state-federal drug task force.

Pub Date: 12/10/97

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