Investigation of detective winds down

Md. attorney general could finish inquiry by April, official says

100 cases may be affected

City police officer accused of planting drugs on suspects

March 23, 2000|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

The state attorney general's investigation of a Westminster police detective accused of trying to plant drugs on suspects could be completed by the end of the month, said the assistant attorney general overseeing the inquiry.

Investigators have interviewed members of the city police force and defendants charged with drug-related offenses, but Assistant Attorney General Emmett Davitt declined to discuss other details of the inquiry into the conduct of Detective Richard A. Ruby and the Police Department.

Two of Ruby's fellow officers filed written complaints accusing Ruby of trying to plant drugs on suspects in two July incidents, neither of which led to arrests.

Ruby, who was suspended with pay Feb. 4, has denied wrongdoing. Westminster police Chief Roger Joneckis requested an investigation by state police in January, and state police turned the matter over to the attorney general's office.

Carroll County State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes complained about not having been informed sooner about the complaints, because Ruby was the arresting officer or a prosecution witness in more than 100 cases, most of them drug-related, since July.

On Feb. 8, Barnes said his office might be forced to dismiss charges in any case in which Ruby was a material witness. Since then, charges against about a dozen defendants have been dropped and allegations made by defendants in other cases involving Ruby have been passed on to the attorney general's investigators, Barnes said.

"We are looking at each case involving Officer Ruby on its own merits," Barnes said. "It may be up to a year before all of his cases are resolved."

It remains unknown why the Police Department waited six months to seek an outside investigation and failed to notify the state's attorney.

Joneckis said yesterday that he had instructed members of the Police Department "not to discuss the matter with anyone, the press, the public or among themselves."

Officer Nikki Heuer, one of the two officers who filed complaints against Ruby, declined to discuss the investigation. Officer Christopher Ilyes, who filed the second complaint, could not be reached to comment.

Depending on the results of its investigation, the attorney general's office could seek criminal charges by taking the matter before a Carroll County grand jury or convey the findings to Joneckis and Barnes.

If the Police Department determined that procedures had been violated, it could lodge administrative charges ranging from a letter of reprimand to suspension or firing.

On the advice of his attorneys, Shawn Larson of Westminster and Joseph Murtha of Howard County, Ruby has declined to discuss the allegations. On Feb. 11, Ruby said he was dumbfounded when he was relieved of police powers.

Last month, Larson said his client was innocent of criminal acts or misconduct as an officer.

"The incidents involved have been misinterpreted, misconstrued and blown way out of proportion," Larson said.

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