Reporting Mike Hellgren
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — Explosive allegations. Wednesday, the misconduct trial of Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold began.
Mike Hellgren has more on the case against Leopold.
This is the trial of his life. The county executive didn’t want to say anything about it Wednesday. The first order of business was picking through a huge pool of more than 300 potential jurors. The judge thinks he has enough who are qualified but he won’t make a decision on that until Thursday morning.
The political fate and potentially the freedom of one of Maryland’s most powerful politicians, Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, will soon be in the hands of a select group of his constituents. He was listening to every word as his defense team, the state prosecutor and the judge began the painstaking process of picking the jury in his misconduct trial.
Leopold is under indictment for how he used his police detail. The state prosecutor alleges the county executive ordered police to keep files on his political enemies, run errands for his campaign and keep his lovers apart—even keep guard while he had sexual liaisons in a mall parking lot.
The prosecutor claims it wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars in overtime and a lawyer who represents a former county employee–a whistleblower–is here to watch the proceedings. He says this case will expose what he calls Leopold’s “reign of terror.”
“It’s shameful, shameful,” said John Singleton, the whistleblower’s lawer. “I think they are a public resource and they are supposed to be doing things to protect the public. I know a lot of these police officers and I know how difficult this whole ordeal has been for them.”
Leopold has said the charges aren’t true and he will answer them fully at trial. The stakes are high: he could lose his powerful position or clear his name from the cloud of scandal.
Former police chief James Teare, who left his job in the wake of the scandal, was in the courtroom Wednesday. The prosecutor asked him to leave, saying he may be a potential witness. The judge will release a full list of the potential witnesses once the jury is seated. That should happen Thursday.
Leopold faces up to five years in jail and fines if convicted.