- Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee claims Constitution is 400 years old
- Unemployment, job creation top biggest problems in America: poll
- Twitter crashes for second time in nine days
- Charles Manson associate Bruce Davis granted parole
- Israeli warplanes pound 29 Palestinian sites in Gaza: ‘Direct hits’ confirmed
- Eric Holder to give thumbs-up to drop jail time for drug offenders
- N.J. Gov. Chris Christie faces fire for Superstorm Sandy dollars: ‘Where’s the governor?’
- Pope Francis shakes Vatican Bank with ‘earthquake’ reforms
- White House: Obamacare didn’t matter in Florida special election
- Last laugh: Marine vet fires off jokes from the grave with own obituary
Ex-Anne Arundel exec sentenced to 30 days in jail
Former Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold was led in handcuffs from a courtroom to a county detention center Thursday after a judge sentenced him to 30 days in jail and 30 days of home detention for misconduct in office.
Judge Dennis Sweeney sentenced Mr. Leopold to a two-year sentence with all but 60 days suspended for forcing members of his security detail to perform campaign work and another county employee to empty his urinary catheter bag.
Judge Sweeney also sentenced Mr. Leopold to pay a $100,000 fine to the state, or a $75,000 fine to the county, and to perform 400 hours of community service. Mr. Leopold also received five years of probation.
Prosecutors had not recommended jail time, citing the 70-year-old Republican's age and health. He has back and urinary problems. Judge Sweeney, however, said a message needed to be sent that misconduct in office carries serious consequences to deter politicians from abusing power after recurring cases in Maryland.
"We can only hope," State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt said after sentencing. "You know, I think it is a message that will certainly deter certain conduct. I would never be so naive as to think that they're aren't going to be individuals who misuse their power, but I think it will send a message."
Maryland has had some high-profile misconduct cases involving politicians in recent years.
Last year, Delegate Tiffany T. Alston, Prince George's Democrat, pleaded no contest to using campaign money to pay for wedding expenses. A jury also found her guilty of using $800 in state money to pay an employee in her law firm. In late 2011, Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson, a Democrat, was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from developers. In 2009, Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, a Democrat, was convicted of embezzling about $500 worth of gift cards donated to the city for needy families.
Judge Sweeney, a retired Howard County judge, presided over the Dixon trial, and he had sharp words for her conduct in office at the time.
Judge Sweeney's sentence on Thursday appeared to surprise Mr. Leopold and his legal team.
On learning he was headed to jail, Mr. Leopold walked over to talk with his longtime companion, Jane Miller, who had told the judge earlier in the morning that Mr. Leopold is devastated and angry at himself for his conduct. Judge Sweeney, who was watching the pair closely from the bench, asked him to return to a table to sign documents before being handcuffed.
"Mr. Leopold, you'll need to come back over here," the judge said.
Mr. Leopold's attorneys asked the judge if he could report to jail Friday. They expressed concern about whether all of his health issues could be addressed at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center immediately. Judge Sweeney said he had spoken to the warden and was assured the facility could handle them.
Before the sentence was announced, Mr. Leopold apologized for his actions. He said he took responsibility when he resigned as the chief executive of Maryland's fourth-largest county on Feb. 1, and wanted to take responsibility again in court.
"I should have known not to make these requests," Mr. Leopold said, referring to the campaign work he asked his security detail to do during his 2010 campaign for re-election.
Mr. Leopold also said he realized it was "insensitive" to put an employee in the demeaning position of emptying his catheter bag.
TWT Video Picks
By Emily Miller
Obama is losing the debate on gun ownership, concealed-carry permits
- Oil rig worker says he saw missing plane go down: report
- GOP bill tries to pull courts into fight with Obama on executive power, enforcing laws
- Ukrainian PM accuses Putin of wanting war
- Inside the Beltway: A new interest in Rahm Emanuel for 2016?
- NRA shirt gets N.Y. high school student suspended
- Special ops forces wearing thin from high demand
- Military families would take a $5,000 hit in benefits with Obama budget
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Critics point to Obama's attempts to sell health care as no laughing matter
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
Chaos as Manhattan building explodes
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again