ACLU alleges former AA police chief involved in Leopold dossiers

As Leopold works off community service, ACLU seeks to add Teare to lawsuit

April 30, 2013|By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun

While former Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold works in a food bank to satisfy the community service requirement of his sentence for misconduct in office, accusations stemming from his legal troubles are reaching another former county official.

The ACLU of Maryland said Tuesday that it would seek to add former county Police Chief James Teare Sr. to its civil lawsuit against Leopold and the county. The rights group said a recorded interview between a police officer and a supervisor suggests Teare was involved in Leopold's use of his security detail to create dossiers on political enemies.

The state prosecutor's office was investigating Teare's possible involvement in Leopold's activities last summer when the chief retired. Prosecutors then dropped the probe.

"Teare resigned, but it never really was uncovered during his tenure how involved he appears to have been," said Deborah A. Jeon, ACLU legal director.

The ACLU said county police Cpl. Howard Brown, who was on Leopold's detail and testified at his trial, says on the tape that Teare reviewed dossiers before they were given to Leopold.

Neither Teare nor Leopold, nor their respective attorneys, could be reached Tuesday.

Steven Wrobel, another attorney in the firm that has represented Teare, said he was not familiar with the ACLU lawsuit. He said Teare has not been charged with wrongdoing.

The ACLU said it obtained the police recording of the March 2011 interview between Brown and Maj. Edward Bergin through a Public Information Act lawsuit against the county and Leopold. ACLU officials released a transcript of the recording on Tuesday.

The organization contends in its lawsuit that the county illegally compiled files about Leopold's "enemies," then refused to release the information, citing Leopold's criminal investigation and trial. It is seeking the files and damages.

Jeon said the recording indicates that Teare "directed that every dossier that they created go to him first for his review before going to Leopold."

The interview includes a reference to a dossier on Thomas Redmond, a former County Council member and council candidate in 2010.

Jeon said the ACLU has asked a judge for permission to file an amended complaint to include Teare.

Local civil rights activist Carl O. Snowden is a plaintiff in the ACLU case.

"The most disturbing part of what we now know is that Chief Teare basically was taking the position that he did not know what was going on, and he even had the audacity to call for the state police to get to the bottom of it," he said.

Supervising County Attorney Andrew J. Murray acknowledged that the county had released the recording. He said he did not know if the county would oppose the ACLU motion to add Teare to the lawsuit, or whether it would represent Teare if he became a defendant in this case.

Murray said he was not familiar with the information released by the ACLU.

Leopold and the county are seeking to have the case dismissed.

Leopold was sentenced in March to 60 days in jail — half on house arrest — for two counts of misconduct in office. A judge found that he had directed his security detail to do campaign work in 2010 and made officers and another county worker empty the urinary catheter bag he used following back surgery.

He is appealing the verdict.

Leopold was fined $100,000, and the sentence includes five years on probation and 400 hours of community service.

The Teare allegations come as Leopold has begun serving those community service hours at Anne Arundel County Food & Resource Bank in Crownsville.

Bruce Michalec, executive director of the food bank, confirmed this week that Leopold "works in the front office for us." He said Leopold has completed one week of community service and is expected to spend 40 hours a week there.

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