Harford Week

March 09, 2003

Maryland prosecutor handles investigation of Harford sheriff

The state prosecutor's office has taken over the investigation of Harford County's sheriff, widening the case to include possible criminal misconduct.

The move by the state prosecutor, acknowledged last week by law enforcement officials, halts a personnel investigation - referred Feb. 10 to Howard County police by the Sheriff's Office's second in command, Deputy Chief Thomas Golding - involving a complaint against Harford County Sheriff Joseph P. Meadows, 42.

Meadows, who was on paid leave for much of last month, returned to work Thursday, saying, "I chose to remain on leave pending the outcome of our internal investigation, but that investigation has been suspended, and it is unclear how long the current investigation will be under way. The Harford County Sheriff's Office has many capable leaders in its Command Staff, but I cannot remain out of office indefinitely. I take tremendous pride in this agency and its people and it is time for me to come back and continue the job I was elected to do."

The nature of the complaint, filed by a female employee of the Sheriff's Office, has not been disclosed.

Death penalty to be sought in killing of Baltimore girl

State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly served official notice Thursday to Jamal Kenneth Abeokuto that Harford County will seek the death penalty against him in the kidnapping and killing of an 8-year-old Baltimore girl, the state's attorney's office said.

Abeokuto, 23, of the 5200 block of W. North Ave. in Baltimore, is in federal custody awaiting trial on extortion charges related to the death of Marciana Ringo. Her body was found in a wooded area of Joppatowne in December, leading a grand jury to indict him last month on charges of kidnapping, first-degree murder, first-degree assault, extortion and carrying a weapon with intent to injure.

A tentative trial date has been set for Oct. 20, the state's attorney's office said.

Calif. senator introduces bill on toxic perchlorate

WASHINGTON - Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, introduced legislation last week to protect drinking water from contamination by perchlorate, a toxic chemical found in at least 21 states, including Maryland.

Boxer's bill would require the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a standard for perchlorate contamination in drinking water supplies by July 1 next year. Under the EPA's current schedule, 2006 is the earliest date a standard would be finalized for the chemical, which is linked to health risks related to thyroid function, especially in newborns, young children and pregnant women.

Perchlorate is used in fireworks, safety flares, matches and car air bags, but 90 percent of it goes into solid rocket fuel for military missiles and the space shuttle, according to the Environmental Working Group, which released new data last week on perchlorate.

Aberdeen officers won't face charges

Harford County's state's attorney has ruled that two Aberdeen police officers involved in a shooting Feb. 20 will not face charges in the incident, and the officers have been returned to duty, a police spokesman said Wednesday.

Officer 1st Class Larry Wade, 44, on the force 12 years, and Officer 1st Class Richard Clark, 36, an officer for four years, had been on administrative leave since the shooting of a 17-year- old armed suspect, said Detective Sgt. Steve Smith of the Aberdeen Police Department.

State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly said in his review "that the officers' actions were reasonable and there is no criminal liability," Smith said.

On Feb. 20, the officers responded to an assault call on East Bel Air Avenue and confronted the suspect in a nearby apartment complex, Smith said. The officers shot the teen-ager after he brandished a gun and pointed it at them, Smith said. The teen remains at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, Smith said.

2 tractor-trailers crash, tying up traffic on I-95

Two tractor-trailers crashed Monday morning near the Maryland House rest area on Interstate 95 in Harford Count, tying up southbound traffic for nearly two hours, state police said. No one was injured.

The accident happened about 6:15 a.m. after a southbound tractor-trailer swerved to miss a disabled vehicle in the roadway, said Cpl. Christopher McQuaide of the JFK Barracks. When the truck swerved, it sideswiped another southbound tractor-trailer and the two trailers locked, skidding to a halt and blocking the southbound lanes, he said.

Mustard agent destruction delayed at proving ground

The destruction of one of the Army's eight chemical weapons stockpiles was delayed last week by equipment problems and the recent spate of poor weather, officials said.

Mustard agent, stockpiled in ton canisters at Aberdeen Proving Ground since World War II, is going to be destroyed by neutralization, a process in which the agent is agitated with hot water to create a chemical reaction that breaks the agent down into treatable, less hazardous components.

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