2 Baltimore police commanders cleared in separate incidents

Majors had faced possible internal, criminal charges

April 28, 2011|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

Two Baltimore police commanders who had been suspended during separate investigations involving an abandoned police vehicle and the loan of a handgun have been cleared of criminal and administrative wrongdoing, their lawyers said Thursday.

Majors Anthony Brown and Terrence McLarney have returned to their jobs running the tactical and homicide divisions, respectively, according to the chief spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department. The spokesman declined to comment further, citing personnel issues.

Brown, a 28-year veteran who ran the Southwestern District before taking over SWAT and special operations, was relieved of duty last month after a handgun reported stolen from a politically connected businessman turned out to be registered to the police major as his personal weapon.

At issue was how Nicolas Ramos, the owner of Arcos Restaurant, obtained Brown's gun. In Maryland, a private citizen can sell a firearm to another citizen but must conduct the transaction at a firearms dealership or in the presence of state police, and there is paperwork that must be filled out.

However, Maryland's highest court ruled in 2006 that it is legal for a regulated handgun to be "loaned" between two people who are permitted to own and obtain a handgun. The Court of Appeals said that "transfer" refers to a permanent exchange of title or possession and "does not include gratuitous temporary exchanges or loans."

That is exactly how Ramos' lawyer, Gary R. Maslan, described the transaction. "The gun had been loaned from Major Anthony Brown to Nico Ramos," he said in a statement, which was also signed by the police major's lawyer, Peter G. Angelos.

"There wasn't any wrondoing by anyone," Maslan said, adding that his client "cooperated fully with the Police Department's and the state's attorney's office investigation. They have been smeared in the news, and neither one of them deserves the taint."

Maslan declined to say why Brown loaned the .38-caliber revolver to his client. Brown's lawyer, who also owns the Baltimore Orioles, did not return calls to his office.

Mark R. Cheshire, a spokesman for the city state's attorney's office, confirmed that prosecutors had cleared Brown. "There was insufficient evidence to establish an illegal transfer" of the weapon, he said.

McLarney, the homicide commander who has spent 34 years on the force, had faced scrutiny stemming from an incident in mid-March when his department vehicle was found abandoned near an Interstate 95 off-ramp. The unmarked Ford Taurus apparently slid off the road in a rainstorm.

The commander told a Maryland State Police investigator that a car in front of him began swerving and that he "braked hard and his vehicle began to slide and left the roadway."

Authorities have not addressed why McLarney did not report the incident. It is a violation to fail to report an accident, but drivers don't have to report abandoned vehicles. State police said at the time that it did not appear the vehicle hit anything other than brush.

Howard County State's Attorney Dario J. Broccolino reviewed the case in March and declined to pursue charges or issue citations. The case was then reviewed by Baltimore police. City police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said they too found no evidence of wrondoing.

Baltimore Sun reporter Peter Hermann contributed to this article

justin.fenton@baltsun.com



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