- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2001

Maryland State Police yesterday reinstated Sgt. Michael R. White's police powers an authority the department took away 4-1/2 years ago when he was charged with mail fraud.
A federal jury found Sgt. White not guilty on Dec. 17, 1999, after hearing weeks of testimony about whether he conducted secret salvage inspections for a business that sold cars rebuilt with stolen parts.
State Police officials reinstated Sgt. White yesterday within hours of a Charles County Circuit Court judge's ruling ordering the department to stop administrative proceedings against him related to the criminal charges.
The department had limited Sgt. White to administrative duties since his acquittal.
Attorney Byron L. Warnken argued that the police department should be forced to drop administrative charges against Sgt. White for three reasons: They were filed a day past the deadline, there was not sufficient evidence to support them and the charges were not preferred by the proper authority.
Judge Christopher Henderson based his order on a finding that the charges were filed late a point Assistant Attorney General Betty Sconion had disputed, even though the only signed copy of the charges produced as evidence was dated a day past the statutory deadline.
Ms. Sconion contended that a commander's approval of charges is evidence of filing them. But Judge Henderson dismissed that argument, citing a Special Appeals Court opinion that states signing charges constitutes filing them, and also the state police manual that says charges are deemed to be filed when signed by an officer's commander.
The judge's ruling did not uphold the plaintiff's other arguments, and he ordered the state to pay court costs but not legal fees.
Sgt. White plans to file a $10 million civil suit for damages and more than a year of lost pay.
Maryland State Police spokesman Maj. Greg Shipley said the "case was about a technicality the judge certainly found we had reason to prefer charges, but that we did it one day late."
Sgt. White's brother, John D. White, said his family was grateful for the ruling but regretted they must continue to fight to undo damage.
Mr. White said police officials and the Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office under the leadership of Lynne A. Battaglia, now a Maryland Court of Appeals judge, targeted his brother because of an incident in the early 1990s in which Sgt. White pushed for the prosecution of domestic-abuse charges against a high-ranking police officer.
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating accusations that the U.S. Attorney's Office destroyed evidence and leaked secret grand jury testimony in its prosecution of Sgt. White.

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