Prosecutors not seeking jail time for John Leopold

Saying John R. Leopold committed "an arrogant abuse of power" by ordering police and other government workers to perform personal and political chores for him, prosecutors are asking a judge to fine the former Anne Arundel County executive $100,000 and sentence him to five years probation and 500 hours of community service.

The recommendation by State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt comes in a document filed Monday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, where Leopold, 70, is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday by Judge Dennis M. Sweeney on two misdemeanor counts of misconduct in office.

Leopold resigned after Sweeney found him guilty in January on two of the five charges against him, relating to ordering police officers on his security detail and his scheduling assistant to drain his catheter bag repeatedly, and directing officers to do tasks for his 2010 re-election campaign, including picking up campaign contributions and creating files on political opponents.

Misconduct in office has no specific penalties under Maryland law, leaving the sentencing entirely up to the judge.

In a four-page filing, prosecutors said they believe under most circumstances, Leopold's "deliberate, egregious, abusive and wrongful conduct would merit some period of incarceration," but decided against seeking a jail term due to Leopold's "age and health issues."

Instead, they are seeking a one-year jail term that would be suspended so Leopold could be placed on supervised probation until the fine is paid and service hours completed. Only if he violated conditions of probation could Leopold be jailed, prosecutors suggested.

The prosecutors pointed in the memorandum to a "continuous pattern" of behavior, and said Leopold's offenses were an "egregious abuse of the public trust."

Leopold's lawyers, also in documents filed Monday, are requesting probation but did not specify a number of years. They made no mention of a fine or service hours in their 17-page memorandum, and wrote that state sentencing guidelines would call for probation.

"In retrospect, Mr. Leopold regrets involving staff and others in his personal health issues and campaign activities," the defense team wrote, calling Leopold's actions "misguided."

Leopold required a urinary catheter after the back surgeries he had twice in 2010. His attorneys noted that the "most private and intimate details" of Leopold's personal life have been publicly scrutinized.

"He has gone from the position of a proud public servant to a man publicly ridiculed and vilified," they wrote.

The defense memo focused on Leopold's achievements in public office. Attorneys Bruce L. Marcus and Robert C. Bonsib noted Leopold's constituent service, as well as the creation of Homeless Resource Day, his push for a casino to bring in revenue to the county, and government belt-tightening that included him returning more than $18,000 of his salary.

The defense filing included positive letters about Leopold and copies of newspaper clippings about achievements and other supportive material.

His longtime companion, Jane Miller, said in a letter that Leopold "initiated counseling" as they dealt with infidelity. She took issue with Leopold's scheduling secretary's testimony about having to empty his catheter over the better part of a year and, referring to Leopold's health issues, said she found it "sad that the help given by his staff has been misconstrued so that it appears he was in some way abusing his power."

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

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