Jailed teenager moved to the state prison system

October 06, 2005|By JULIE BYKOWICZ | JULIE BYKOWICZ,SUN REPORTER

The teenager who has been at a pretrial detention center for almost a year in spite of a felony conviction and five-year sentence has been transferred to the state's prison system.

Moshe Khaver was being held yesterday at the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center in Baltimore, where he will be assessed before moving to a prison to serve out the rest of his term.

Khaver, 19, pleaded guilty last fall to first-degree assault. He admitted running over another teen, who spent five weeks in a coma and suffered permanent injuries, during a dispute about $20 in marijuana.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Kaye Allison sentenced Khaver - who has ties to the governor's office and whose father is a local rabbi - last November to five years in prison, saying he was "no different" than other drug-dealing youths who turn to violence.

But Khaver, in an unusual arrangement, was not transferred to prison and instead remained at the Central Booking and Intake Center, an often overcrowded pretrial facility typically used to house people from arrest until bail or trial. He was held in a single cell and received meal deliveries from his mother.

Khaver was moved late Tuesday, the end of the first day of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year and one of the religion's highest holy days.

The transfer comes about three weeks after a Baltimore judge sharply questioned Maryland prison officials for keeping Khaver in the detention center.

Public Safety Secretary Mary Ann Saar, who heads the prison system, wrote in response that the teen's first request for parole was recently denied. "Because of the parole denial," Saar wrote, he was moved to a prison. His next chance at parole is December 2006, prison officials said.

A public safety spokesman said last night that Khaver was initially granted parole for December after his Aug. 15 hearing, but that decision was reversed Sept. 22. A week before that reversal, The Sun reported that Khaver appeared to be being treated differently than most other inmates.

"The decision to keep Mr. Khaver at Central Booking was a sound and absolutely proper one," said the spokesman, Mark Vernarelli.

Howard L. Cardin, Khaver's attorney, said last night that he was unfamiliar with any developments in the case. He said that moving Khaver on a Jewish holiday sounded "strange and clandestine" and that he would look into the situation today.

Internal documents from Central Booking show an order that Khaver was not to be moved without the permission of a high-level official with the Division of Pretrial Detention and Services. Khaver was in protective custody and housed in a solitary cell.

A prosecutor said his mother prepared kosher food for him every day. Prison officials said his mother did not prepare the food herself, but that she delivered prepackaged meals twice a week to Central Booking. That practice will stop, prison officials said.

Visitor logs show five people claiming to be his lawyer, two clergy members and two people listed as "special" have visited in the past year. Khaver received a visitor who was not listed as a lawyer or clergy member 10 days earlier than Central Booking's policy permits.

Cardin said some of the visiting lawyers worked on Khaver's criminal case and at least one other is involved in a civil lawsuit filed by the family of the boy Khaver ran over.

One of the visiting clergy members was Sander Goldberg, a rabbi who gave the benediction at Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s swearing-in ceremony and was named a state tax judge by Ehrlich.

On Goldberg's recommendation, Ehrlich - unaware of the criminal charges - appointed Khaver to a state juvenile justice advisory council in 2004, after he had been charged with the June 2003 assault but before he had pleaded guilty. Khaver violated his home detention to attend his first council meeting and has been removed from the panel.

Goldberg has said that none of Khaver's advocates played a role in his confinement conditions.

Reports about Khaver's treatment angered Circuit Judge Evelyn O. Cannon, who wrote last month to Saar demanding answers. Cannon wrote that the Khaver situation "plays directly into the very deep perception in this city that race is a major factor in the operation of our criminal justice system."

In a letter dated Sept. 29, Saar responded that she "can state categorically there is nothing `different about Mr. Khaver,' and he is not being treated differently than other inmates." She wrote that Khaver's stay at Central Booking was approved only because of the "projected short time of his incarceration," and she criticized The Sun for characterizing his case as "special treatment."

Saar referred to other "unique circumstances resulting from his sentencing" that played into Khaver's extended stay at the pretrial facility, but did not elaborate.

Cannon, in response to a question about whether Saar's response was satisfactory, said she is "still in communication" with prison officials.

Lawyers and others familiar with the criminal justice system say several of Saar's assertions make no sense.

Bridget Duffy Shepherd, the Circuit Court chief of Baltimore's public defenders, said that even offenders with sentences as short as a few months are not held at Central Booking.

julie.bykowicz@baltsun.com

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