Theft Case Acquittals

April 30, 2009|By Nick Madigan | Nick Madigan,nick.madigan@baltsun.com

A Baltimore police officer and his wife, accused in February of stealing more than $1,000 worth of merchandise from a Wal-Mart store in Owings Mills, have been found not guilty in Baltimore County District Court.

The 44-year-old officer, Robert H. Gordon, a 16-year veteran of the force, and his wife, Daniella A. Gordon, 41, were arrested on Feb. 17 after the incident at the store, where security guards told police they observed the couple concealing items under clothing in a shopping cart.

The officer was placed under suspension by his department after his arrest and remains so while an internal investigation into his conduct continues, said Officer Troy Harris, a spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department. Harris said Gordon could face disciplinary action, and that there was "no time frame" for ending the investigation.

The verdict came at the conclusion of a short bench trial Tuesday before Judge Sally C. Chester. Both defendants had been free on their own recognizance since their arrests.

"I felt the evidence was strong against them, and the judge disagreed," said Rachel Karceski Wednesday. She tried the case for the Baltimore County state's attorney's office.

Clarke F. Ahlers, the officer's lawyer, said the "entire case was a giant misunderstanding," and that at no point did his client leave the store with any stolen goods.

The couple had purchased $145 worth of merchandise but went through the checkout counter with other items beneath the ones they had bought, the police report said. "The concealed items were not placed on the conveyor belt to be purchased," the report said. When all the merchandise was tallied after their arrests, it came to $1,168, much of it clothing.

"Assuming he's got a lick of sense as a police officer, this would hardly be the M.O. of a good shoplifter," Ahlers said of his client. Gordon's wife was represented by another lawyer.

Security guards at the store detained the woman after she left the store while her husband waited inside near the checkout counters, police said. When stopped, she told a guard she was going to her car to retrieve a checkbook to pay for the unpaid items.

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