Panel urges officer be fired

Police lieutenant was working in strip club while on duty

Guilty of misconduct

October 10, 2001|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore Police Department disciplinary board recommended yesterday that Lt. John M. Mack be fired, after finding him guilty of 38 misconduct charges stemming from his actions at an underground strip club during a raid.

Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris has 30 days to act on the trial board's recommendation and is expected to fire Mack. This year, Norris told the City Council that Mack was "working in a whorehouse on duty" and that "I don't want him in my department."

After hearing four days of testimony, the three-member board found Mack guilty of 38 of the 58 charges brought against him after the raid April 1 at the West Baltimore club.

The trial board found, among other charges, that Mack left his department-issue handgun behind the bar out of reach, made false statements to investigators, arranged to have official log books changed to show that he was not scheduled to work April 1 and brought discredit to the department.

"To keep the faith of the public, the department has to make the right decisions," said Sean R. Malone, the agency's chief legal counsel, who argued the case before the board. "We made the right decision."

Mack, who was unavailable for comment yesterday, could appeal the decision.

His lawyer, Michael E. Davey, said he could not comment on the case or possible appeal until he has read the disciplinary board's report, which is expected to be issued in several days.

Mack, a 17-year veteran most recently assigned to the Northwestern District, has been on paid administrative leave for several months. If fired, he would lose his pension, Malone said.

Mack was discovered by agents from the state comptroller's office and city police during a raid at Ronnie's West Side Gallery, a club in the 2100 block of W. Lanvale St., about 1:50 a.m. April 1.

Officials believed unlicensed liquor sales were made at the club, which was holding a gathering advertised as a "Locked-Door Freak Fest."

In addition to illegal alcohol sales, agents found prostitution and unlicensed nude dancing at the club, according to testimony.

Mack was scheduled to work supervising detectives in the Northwestern District from 6 p.m. March 31 to 2 a.m. April 1.

The trial board found that Mack ordered a detective to change the official log book to show that he was not scheduled to work during the early morning of April 1.

Witnesses testified that Mack left the club with two strippers after authorities ordered him to stay during the raid.

In his defense, Mack testified that he had permission to take the night off and was only at the club to pick up a friend. He also said that he put his loaded gun behind the bar because the weapon was slipping out of his waistband. He acknowledged ordering someone to change the log book but said such practices are common in the department.

Some officers said the disciplinary board might have been biased because of Norris telling the City Council that he didn't want Mack to work for his department, which occurred before the panel convened.

Mack filed a lawsuit in Baltimore Circuit Court, alleging that Norris defamed him with those remarks, but a judge dismissed the suit.

Police officials said yesterday that the disciplinary board did not consider Norris' comments.

"They had no impact," Malone said. "It's very difficult to [take action] against your peers. ... This is not a day the department is jumping for joy."

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