- The Washington Times - Friday, May 31, 2002

A former state trooper who solicited a sexual favor from a woman he pulled over for traffic offenses pleaded guilty to bribery yesterday under a deal that would enable him to avoid prison.

William A. Carter, 42, of Manassas, admitted that on Jan. 9, he tore up a summons for a 20-year-old woman who had been pulled over for erratic driving. In return, she engaged in sexual contact with him.

Carter had been lauded for his zealous enforcement of drunken-driving laws, but a police investigation last year revealed that he disproportionately targeted female drivers.

Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert said his office found no evidence of additional criminal misconduct by Carter, but there were several instances of improper behavior.

If Prince William County Circuit Judge Rossie D. Alston accepts the terms of the plea bargain at a Sept. 19 sentencing, Carter would receive a suspended sentence and would have to perform community service and undergo counseling. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

After the hearing, Mr. Ebert said jail would be inappropriate because Carter "has served the commonwealth well in the past."

"He had no prior criminal record and he has shown a lot of remorse," he said.

Mr. Ebert noted that Carter lost his job as a state trooper and will lose his job as a real estate agent as a result of the felony conviction.

Carter declined to comment after the hearing. His attorney, Manuel A. Capsalis, told the judge that "until this incident, he had an absolutely sterling record with the state police."

Carter was caught after the 20-year-old woman filed a complaint, and a supervisor confronted him.

Carter admitted to his boss that "he had engaged in misconduct and had brought shame to the department," prosecutor Richard Conway said.

As a result of the charges against Carter, prosecutors dropped nearly 40 drunken-driving and traffic cases last month in which he was the charging officer.

Carter, who spent 18 years as a trooper, routinely wrote more than 100 drunken-driving summonses each year and had been lauded by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program.

A Virginia State Police internal-affairs investigation last year revealed that roughly half of his drunken-driving cases involved women, compared with a 19 percent average in Prince William County.

Mr. Ebert said that investigation should have made clear to the state police that Carter was engaging in conduct "that should not be tolerated." But Carter was not suspended until February, when the 20-year-old came forward. He resigned after he was indicted April 1.

State police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell said she could not comment on the case.

Some Prince William County lawyers have said it was obvious that Carter stopped an unusually high number of women. Joseph McGuire, an attorney who represented a woman pulled over by Carter, called it "the best-kept open secret in Prince William County."

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