Hopeful was urged to rethink House bid

GOP officials concerned about criminal record of candidate Impallaria

But he stays in 7th District race

October 18, 2002|By Linda Linley | Linda Linley,SUN STAFF

Four Baltimore County Republican leaders took the unusual step last month of urging 7th District candidate Richard K. Impallaria to reconsider his candidacy for a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates because of concerns about his criminal record.

Del. Alfred W. Redmer Jr., the House minority leader; Sen. Andrew P. Harris of the 7th District; Del. James Ports Jr. of the 8th District; and R. Karl Aumann, district director for GOP gubernatorial candidate Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s congressional office, met with Impallaria before the Sept. 25 deadline for a candidate to withdraw.

"They wanted to verify some of the charges about me that they had received in the mail and to ask me about rethinking my candidacy," Impallaria said. "But I never thought about resigning."

Impallaria's record shows nine cases involving 27 charges, most of which were not prosecuted for unrecorded reasons or dismissed, according to Maryland District Court documents.

The charges include bribing a public employee and four counts of assault with intent to murder stemming from allegations that he tried to run down four people, including his mother and brother, with a car after an argument at his home in Joppatowne in Harford County in 1982.

"The referenced incident [involving his family] happened 20 years ago," Impallaria, 39, said in a written statement. "The charges were reduced, and I received probation before judgment, which was later expunged from my record. This is a non-issue in this campaign. The mistakes of my youth are just that." Records confirm he served three years of probation on a battery charge in that incident.

He said he is "being harassed and singled out with charges from 20 years ago because I stand up and fight."

On the bribery charge, he was fined $200 in 1987. Impallaria said it involved a Baltimore police officer who was a neighbor of a relative. Impallaria said he offered to cut the officer's grass if he would ignore a traffic violation.

Impallaria said he "didn't remember the other charges, but back in the '80s, the police used to harass kids."

Harris said he told Impallaria at the September meeting what the candidate would be facing if he stayed in the race.

"We sat down with him and told him his life would be put under a microscope," Harris said. "We told him that if he stayed in the race, the Democrats would be running a negative campaign. He is a newcomer to politics, but his recent past has been standing up to government."

Democrats have not made an issue of Impallaria's record. They declined to comment for this article.

Ports said the Republicans left it up to Impallaria to decide whether to run.

"He decided to stay in," Ports said. "I have to give him credit. It will be difficult."

Baltimore County Republican Central Committee Chairman Donald E. Murphy, who didn't attend the meeting with Impallaria, said he never recommends anyone with a "difficult background" run for office. "I would have advised him to withdraw," Murphy said.

Impallaria thinks he will be a good representative.

"I'm not perfect and I learn from my mistakes. I am running on my own name and own reputation," he said.

The new 7th District includes a diverse list of communities, with 75 percent of it within Baltimore County, stretching from Essex on the east to Cockeysville in the north, then northeasterly to rural and suburban areas south of Bel Air in Harford County.

Impallaria first came to the forefront in 2000 when he helped lead the fight against Senate Bill 509, a plan - later defeated in a referendum - that would have allowed county officials to condemn land for revitalization in parts of the county.

But he made enemies a year after S.B. 509 was defeated, when he tried unsuccessfully to sell land in Essex for $1 million to the county for redevelopment.

Impallaria has also asked the Maryland State Police to conduct an investigation about how his criminal records were obtained, since he believed they were expunged. However, they are available online at the state District Court Web site.

The charges available from the state do not include the circumstances of each incident. The charges are:

In addition to the four counts of assault with intent to murder, he was also charged with two counts of assault, two counts of battery and two counts of malicious destruction of property in May 1982. Impallaria was never prosecuted on these charges, according to state District Court documents.

Two counts of assault, two counts of battery and two counts of malicious destruction of property in Harford County in June 1982. All of the charges were stetted, meaning they were kept open for three years, except for one. He was found guilty of one battery charge and placed on probation.

Trespassing on posted property in Harford County in September 1981. He was not prosecuted, but the case was marked stetted.

Malicious destruction of property. He was found guilty and fined $100 in District Court in Baltimore in March 1982.

Trespassing on school grounds and refusing to leave a building in Harford County in May 1982. He was not prosecuted, but the case was also stetted.

Assault and battery in Harford in May 1985. He was never prosecuted on these charges.

Disorderly conduct and having an open container of alcohol in Baltimore County in July 1990. He was found guilty of having the open container and paid a $30 fine, but was found not guilty of disorderly conduct.

Malicious destruction of property and harassment in Baltimore County in August 1991, but both charges were dismissed.

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