Official to lead oversight of police

Former prosecutor to work with officers, out of Jessamy's office

Trying to mend fences

May 02, 2001|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

A chief prosecutor has been named for the new police corruption unit in the city state's attorney's office, closing another chapter in a bitter feud between city law enforcement agencies and the mayor.

The appointment of A. Thomas Krehely Jr., a former prosecutor with the state agency that investigates public officials, comes after Mayor Martin O'Malley and Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris sharply criticized State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy and her office's handling of police misconduct cases this past winter.

In an interview yesterday, Jessamy said that her selection of Krehely will "work to mend fences and move forward." She noted that as an outsider, he has no "set opinions" about other city agencies, and he has not been involved in previous flare-ups.

"He has everything that we need for this kind of job, and he brings a new perspective," Jessamy said. He is an "attorney who is going to make decisions based on the law, the facts and the evidence."

Krehely started the job Monday. For the past 10 years, he has been a lawyer with State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli's office. He prosecuted former state Sen. Larry Young on bribery and extortion charges two years ago. (Young was acquitted.)

He helped convict racetrack owner Joseph A. DeFrancis in 1996 of making illegal campaign donations. Two years earlier, he secured a guilty plea from Maryland's former deputy tax collector, J. Basil Wisner, for tax evasion.

The new five-member police corruption unit, known as the Police Misconduct/Ethics Division, was formed in March after a dispute over Jessamy's decision to drop charges against a police officer accused of planting drugs on an innocent man. Jessamy said evidence had been tainted by a break-in of a secret police building, but O'Malley and Norris insisted the case was still viable, prompting O'Malley to attack Jessamy in a profanity-laced tirade.

Anger later deepened when the prosecutor who used to handle police corruption cases, Elizabeth A. Ritter, called into a local radio show under a pseudonym to attack the Police Department. Norris demanded publicly that Ritter, a close Jessamy adviser, be removed from office.

City and police officials agreed to fund the new unit only if Ritter was not a part of it, sources have said. Ritter remains head of the economic crimes division.

Jessamy said Krehely is to meet with officials with the Police Department's Internal Affairs Division today.

Tony White, O'Malley's spokesman, said that neither the mayor nor the police commissioner knows Krehely but that they hope he does a good job.

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