Laney arms case grows

59 more weapons charges filed against ex-sheriff's candidate

Bail set at $2 million

Charges carry fine of up to $250,000, 25 years in jail

July 21, 2000|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Two-time Howard County sheriff's candidate Richmond Laney is being held in lieu of $2 million bond after Howard County police brought 59 additional weapons charges against him yesterday.

Laney walked into the Howard County Commissioner's Office smiling and laughing last evening before his bail was set.

Escorted by police officers from his cell at the Howard County Detention Center in Jessup, Laney looked straight ahead and did not answer reporters' questions about the origin of the weapons found last week in his foreclosed Ellicott City home.

Fifty-seven of the new counts are for possession of a destructive device. The remaining two are for possession with intent to manufacture a destructive device.

Until yesterday, Laney, 43, was being held on two charges - one for reckless endangerment and the other for possession of a destructive device.

The state charges deal mainly with the more than 80 military explosives found in Laney's Fels Lane home, Howard County police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said.

The state fire marshal's office is also investigating the explosives, which are being stored by the Army at Fort Meade.

Federal charges for the guns could be brought against Laney in the coming weeks. Before federal charges can be brought, authorities at the Baltimore division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are trying to determine where Laney obtained the weapons.

Some of the weapons or weapons parts taken from Laney's home July 14 will be analyzed by ATF's firearm technology branch in Washington, said Special Agent Mike Campbell, a spokesman for the ATF's Baltimore office.

Campbell said the technology branch can determine whether the weapons parts found in the home are illegal. They would be if they could be used to convert a gun into a fully automatic weapon, he said.

Howard County police had predicted the additional charges all week. During Laney's bail reduction hearing Monday, county Assistant State's Attorney Erin Granger said detectives told her to expect 50 to 60 more charges before week's end.

In light of the expected charges, Granger asked Judge James N. Vaughan on Monday to increase Laney's bail, but the judge let it stand at $250,000.

Laney's bail was increased to $2 million yesterday.

Sixty of the charges each carry a penalty of up to $250,000 and up to 25 years in prison. The reckless endangerment charge could result in a fine of up to $5,000 and a maximum of five years in prison.

Laney was in the Howard County Detention Center when an inspector with Veterans Affairs stumbled across the weapons at the Fels Lane home.

Laney was serving time for criminal contempt relating to a prolonged child-support case and had been in jail about four weeks.

Some who know Laney said they tried to warn authorities of his erratic behavior and penchant for weapons years ago.

Master in Chancery Bernard A. Raum, who was overseeing Laney's child-support case, reported to Howard police in January 1999 that Laney had threatened him.

Raum said he believes police did not take his complaint seriously and said he is unsure of the outcome of their investigation.

Police Chief Wayne Livesay said the department "did as much as we legally could do at that time."

Tobey Glee Brehm, lawyer for Laney's wife, Susan, said she told Howard police and the county Sheriff's Department in fall 1998 that Richmond Laney stored weapons in his home.

Many who knew Laney said he often dressed in fatigues. He was a member of the Army Reserve from 1987 to 1997. Before that, he had served on active duty and spent two years in the National Guard. Officials from Howard County police, ATF, the state fire marshal's office and Army agencies cordoned off Fels Lane on July 14 while they sifted through the weaponrs.

Among the stash found at Laney's home, police have cataloged explosives, grenades, a disassembled .50-caliber machine gun, long guns, a rocket launcher and ammunition.

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