Judge orders Norris' return

Community service must be performed in Baltimore

February 03, 2005|By Matthew Dolan | Matthew Dolan,SUN STAFF

Former city police Commissioner Edward T. Norris, released from federal prison last month, is returning to Baltimore after all.

Norris, who pleaded guilty to public corruption and tax charges in March, lost his bid yesterday to move his community service requirement from Baltimore to his new home in Tampa. Fla.

"Edward T. Norris owes a moral debt to the citizens of the City of Baltimore," said U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett in an order issued yesterday.

"The debt can only be repaid by community service in the City of Baltimore."

Norris, 44, admitted last year to misusing a special police fund and evading tax laws. His lawyers said yesterday that he will obey the judge's order.

"We're disappointed," David B. Irwin, one of Norris' defense attorneys, said of the judge's decision. "We just wished that we would have been shown a little more mercy at this point."

It was unclear what community service Norris, who was also the Maryland State Police superintendent after quitting as city police commissioner, will be required to perform. The community service will be directed by the U.S. Probation Office in Baltimore, and officials said this week they do not comment on individuals cases.

Bennett sentenced Norris in June to serve six months behind bars, followed by three years' supervised release, including six months of home detention. Norris also was ordered to pay $12,000 in restitution, a $10,000 fine and perform 500 hours of community service, specifically in Baltimore.

Last month, his defense attorneys asked Bennett to allow Norris to complete his community service in Florida, where he now lives with his wife and son. But the U.S. attorney's office in Maryland objected, arguing that Norris showed no contrition for his crimes in a recent television interview and should receive no leniency.

Bennett agreed with federal prosecutors yesterday that the ex-police commissioner should perform his community service in Baltimore.

Norris also asked that if he were required to come back to Baltimore, he be allowed to complete his community service while serving six months of home detention. But prosecutors objected, and Bennett rejected that request as well.

"While such an accommodation may be allowed a review of prior cases before this Court reflects that such accommodations are rarely granted," the judge wrote. "Quite simply, the facts of this case do not justify treating Mr. Norris differently from any other defendants."

Bennett also turned down a request by Norris' attorneys for a hearing to make their case.

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