Inquiry focuses only on officer

Barnes' investigation looks at allegations drugs were planted

May 02, 2000|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Carroll's chief prosecutor, who is investigating allegations that a Westminster police officer tried to plant drugs on suspects, said yesterday that he has found no evidence of similar problems within the department.

State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes said he wanted to make it clear that the inquiry he expects to complete this month remains focused on Officer Richard A. Ruby, a detective with the Westminster police force.

The Maryland attorney general's office deferred the case to Barnes two weeks ago after completing its investigation of Ruby.

"There's no indicator or factual basis to believe other members of the Westminster Police Department were involved in any potential wrongdoing," Barnes said yesterday.

Two Westminster officers filed complaints against Ruby, alleging that the 36-year-old officer was holding a small bag of suspected marijuana July 17 when, during two unrelated incidents, he acted as if he would plant the narcotics to facilitate an arrest.

Ruby was suspended with pay Feb. 4 and has denied the allegations.

No one was arrested in either incident, but prosecutors have had to drop charges in more than a dozen drug-involved cases in which Ruby would have been a material witness for the state.

The attorney general's office got involved in January after Westminster Police Chief Roger Joneckis requested an independent investigation by Maryland State Police.

That inquiry ended without criminal charges last month, when investigators for the attorney general chose to defer the matter to Barnes.

Barnes said he wanted to complete his review quickly because he believes the Westminster agency has been operating under a cloud of public doubt since news of the attorney general's investigation surfaced.

"The investigation has always focused on Detective Ruby, and it's important that the public be aware of that," Barnes said. "It's truly unfair to encompass the entire department with the alleged conduct of one single officer."

Barnes said his review has uncovered additional information about Ruby that might have to be turned over to defense lawyers in any case in which Ruby would be a material witness, but he declined to elaborate because his inquiry is continuing.

"Our original position has remained the same," Barnes said. "We are bound by ethical and legal rules of discovery to turn over potentially detrimental information to the defense."

Attempts to contact Ruby and Shawn Larson, his attorney, were unsuccessful yesterday.

Joneckis said he and City Attorney John B. Walsh Jr. had met with Barnes after the attorney general's investigation concluded and " agreed to wait patiently for Mr. Barnes to review the matter."

He confirmed that any internal administrative action involving Ruby could not begin until after Barnes had concluded his review.

Ruby would retain the right to appeal if the allegations against him are handled by criminal prosecution or by administrative sanctions.

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