Chief discusses Ruby probe

No evidence of wrongdoing by other officers was found

`High ethical ... values'

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

Westminster Police Chief Roger Joneckis expressed satisfaction yesterday that independent investigations into allegations of misconduct by former Detective Richard A. Ruby found no evidence of wrongdoing by other officers.

Joneckis' statement was his first public comment about Ruby and the investigations.

Ruby, who resigned Wednesday, was accused by two colleagues of trying to plant drugs on suspects in unrelated incidents last summer. He was suspended with pay Feb. 4 and has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

His resignation occurred a day before Carroll County State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes planned to seek an indictment against the officer, after reviewing a Maryland attorney general's investigation and conducting his own.

"The resignation was a result of negotiations between State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes and attorney Joseph Murtha, which will result in no criminal charges or indictments," Joneckis said in a written statement yesterday.

Joneckis also spoke briefly about the circumstances leading to the investigations.

He emphasized that the investigations by the Maryland attorney general's office, the county state's attorney and state police internal affairs unit found "no indications that any officer planted drugs on anyone."

"The police officers of this department have high ethical and moral values," he said in the prepared statement. "It is obvious here today that the members of the Westminster Police Department have proven that they do not condone nor tolerate any unprofessional or improper conduct."

In a written statement, Joneckis said he had accepted the resignation from Ruby, who had been employed with the department since August 1996.

Ruby's response, made in writing through his attorney yesterday evening, said he had planned on continuing to work for the Westminster Police Department after not being implicated in any wrongdoing by the attorney general's investigation.

"Unfortunately, the environment created by the Carroll County State's Attorney's Office resulted in a situation where I felt I would never be able to obtain a fair and unbiased review of my performance over the past years of service to the Westminster community."

Ruby, 36, said his decision to resign was voluntary, but " recognized that the campaign of personal destruction orchestrated by the state's attorney would not end."

Earlier, Joneckis said he had no apprehension about an independent agency placing his department under a microscope. He asked the Maryland attorney general's office to investigate the allegations.

The most difficult part of the nearly four-month probe was not being able to speak in defense of his 35-member agency, Joneckis said.

"Personnel issues are private, and I did not want to interfere in any way with the ongoing investigations," Joneckis said.

Joneckis hesitated briefly when asked why the complaints against Ruby for unrelated incidents July 17 were not put into writing until Dec. 13 and Jan. 5, and why an independent investigation was not sought until Jan. 18.

"I have to say first that I have not seen copies of the reports," he said. "It is my understanding that an officer made an allegation in July and action was taken by an administrator. Because personnel matters are private, that officer was unaware that any action had been taken."

Joneckis, who was named chief in August to replace the late Sam Leppo, said the officer brought up the matter with him in December.

"I immediately requested a report in writing," he said. "A short time later, I learned another officer intended to file another complaint."

Those complaints ultimately led Joneckis to seek an independent investigation from Maryland State Police, who took the matter to the attorney general.

Because of the nature of the complaints and Ruby's suspension, Barnes announced in February that all cases involving Ruby as a material witness may be dismissed.

Yesterday, Barnes said charges were dropped in 49 cases in District or Circuit Court in which Ruby was needed as a material witness for the state.

Nine cases were placed on the court's inactive docket, meaning they will be dropped after one year if the defendant remains trouble-free, and one case was dismissed.

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