Former Morningside police chief sentenced

April 05, 2010|By Ruben Castaneda | The Washington Post

During his sentencing in Prince George's County Circuit Court on Friday, David A. Eichelberger, the former police chief of Morningside, told the judge that he illegally sold a police weapon last year so he could afford diapers for his children.

Eichelberger, who pleaded guilty in February to stealing and then selling the 9mm Glock pistol, was sentenced to 60 days in jail. In imposing the sentence, Judge Nicholas E. Rattal gave Eichelberger credit for the one day he has spent in jail.

Rattal said he believed Eichelberger was remorseful and was unlikely to commit further crimes. But, the judge said, Eichelberger violated the trust of the public, which counts on police officers to keep illegal guns off the street.

"There has to be a sanction," Rattal said.

Before the sentence was imposed, Eichelberger told Rattal that he sold the Glock because of financial pressures. Eichelberger said he and his wife were paying hundreds of dollars a week in child-care costs for three children.

Eichelberger's lawyer, William C. Brennan, said during the sentencing hearing that probation would be appropriate. Brennan told Rattal that his client joined the Morningside police force with the promise of a salary of $56,000 a year and the opportunity to supplement that by moonlightingBut shortly after he joined the department, Morningside fired its police chief and appointed Eichelberger to the job, at a salary of $38,000 a year, Brennan said. As chief, Eichelberger was prohibited from working a second job, Brennan said.

Eichelberger sold the handgun and a shotgun to the operator of an auto shop last July, for a total of $600. Authorities determined the sale of the shotgun to be legal. Eichelberger was an officer, not the chief, at the time.

He was fired Oct. 2 after news reports that he was under investigation for selling the firearms.

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