Officer accused by colleagues of planting evidence resigns

State's attorney was to ask indictment

June 01, 2000|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Westminster police Detective Richard A. Ruby resigned yesterday, a day before Carroll County State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes planned to seek an indictment of the officer as a result of accusations of misconduct.

Ruby, who has vehemently denied wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crime, was unavailable for comment yesterday. He was suspended with pay Feb. 4 after two colleagues alleged that he tried to plant evidence on drug suspects during unrelated incidents July 17.

City Attorney John B. Walsh Jr. said late yesterday that he had received a letter from Joseph Murtha, Ruby's lawyer. Murtha's letter indicated his client was tendering his resignation, said Walsh, who declined to comment further.

In January, at the request of Westminster Police Chief Roger Joneckis, the state attorney general's office began an investigation of Ruby that lasted almost three months. In April, that office deferred further action to Barnes.

Barnes said he reviewed the attorney general's findings and completed his independent investigation about three weeks ago. He said he told Murtha he would present the findings of both investigations to the current grand jury unless a satisfactory resolution was reached before today.

If Ruby had not resigned, he could have faced administrative disciplinary hearings conducted by Joneckis even if the grand jury chose not to indict him, Barnes said. Joneckis is expected to talk to reporters today.

"I believe this officer's resignation is both an acceptable and an appropriate solution to this unfortunate situation," Barnes said. "Future pursuit of criminal charges and litigation would now serve no legitimate prosecutorial or societal purpose."

Barnes said his investigation uncovered "several other situations" involving Ruby but declined to say what they were. He said county prosecutors would have been obligated to tell defendants or their lawyers about those situations in cases where Ruby was involved.

Since February, the state's attorney's office had dismissed about 28 cases in which Ruby would have been a material witness, Barnes said. All involved finding or seizing drugs or chain of custody of drug-related evidence, he said.

"We may have a couple dozen more cases involving Ruby that will have to be dropped," Barnes said. "We're dealing with each one as it comes up."

Barnes estimated administrative actions against Ruby could have cost "tens of thousands of dollars in litigation expenses" and "gone on for one to 1 1/2 years," at great expense to Westminster.

"The Police Department and city of Westminster need to move forward, shedding any cloud of public mistrust," he said, emphasizing that his investigation found no evidence that any other Westminster officer engaged in the type of misconduct of which Ruby was accused.

Barnes said he never suggested Ruby resign but thought it was a "prudent decision on the officer's part."

Ruby, 36, had been with the Westminster force since 1996. He began as a beat officer and was promoted in January last year to detective in the criminal investigation division.

Should Ruby seek future employment in law enforcement, Barnes said he would be "legally mandated" to call the state's attorney in that jurisdiction and reveal the allegations that were made against the officer in Carroll County.

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