Maryland trooper who accused Gansler is target of unrelated investigation

November 5, 2013

The veteran state police lieutenant who documented allegations that Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler ordered troopers assigned to him to drive recklessly is himself being investigated concerning accusations that he worked as an armed security guard in the District and Virginia without proper licenses.

Two other troopers are also under scrutiny, law enforcement authorities said. They moonlighted with Lt. Charles Ardolini, who runs the state police executive protection unit, at a private security company based in Virginia.

Gregory M. Shipley, spokesman for the Maryland State Police, and Gwendolyn Crump, chief spokeswoman for the D.C. police, confirmed that the investigation is active. Crump said police are also looking into whether Collis & Associates, the McLean-based company for which the troopers worked, was properly licensed in the District. The Virginia State Police are also investigating the matter, a spokeswoman said. The troopers, including Ardolini, remain on full duty.

Authorities familiar with details of the investigation and an attorney representing the lieutenant and another trooper said it includes allegations that Ardolini improperly used his unmarked state-issued cruiser while working in the District and Virginia. Among his duties was advance work for scheduled appearances by Wesley G. Bush, the president and chief executive of Northrop Grumman, one of the country’s largest defense contractors. A company spokesman declined to comment.

Ardolini also was armed while working the security job. Federal law allows police officers to carry guns between one jurisdiction and another but stipulates that officers cannot personally profit while carrying department-issued firearms. Ardolini’s attorney, Michael Davey, said his client used his personal weapon on the private job and believes that all laws were followed regarding the carrying of firearms.

Shipley said several employees are being investigated to determine whether their secondary employment related to security work in the District and Virginia was sanctioned by the department. The spokesman said in a statement that his agency asked authorities in Virginia and the District to also investigate. He declined to identify the troopers involved. One is assigned to internal affairs, authorities said. As a result, the investigation is being conducted by a supervisor in the homicide unit to avoid a conflict of interest.

The statement says the “investigations are being conducted to determine if violations of law and/or department policy have occurred.”

Shipley said the allegations came to the department’s attention with a phone call Oct. 15, three days after The Washington Post published an article critical of Gansler’s driving and passenger habits based on an internal memo written by Ardolini. The memo, obtained by The Post through a request under the Maryland Public Information Act, depicts Gansler, who is running for governor, as reckless, ordering troopers to ignore stop signs and speed with lights and sirens to routine assignments. Ardolini wrote that Gansler “consistently acted in a way that disregards public safety, our Troopers safety and even the law.”

Gansler called himself the victim of “dirty politics” by his chief rival for the Democratic nomination — Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown. Gansler then labeled Ardolini a “henchman.” State police called Gansler’s comments “unseemly and unacceptable” and said that the state’s highest law enforcement officer had questioned the integrity of all Maryland troopers.

Davey, Ardolini’s attorney, said that “due to the nature of where the complaint came from, we’re very suspect as to the motive. The fact that it was made three days after the release of information regarding the attorney general clearly makes me suspicious.”

Davey added: “I’m sure the Maryland State Police will do a very thorough investigation into this matter and find that neither Lt. Ardolini nor any other trooper violated any law in the state of Maryland, Virginia or in Washington, D.C.”

Davey said Ardolini has not worked for Collis & Associates for some time. He said he didn’t know whether other troopers are continuing to work for the company. Davey also represents the trooper who is assigned to Internal Affairs. He confirmed that she has traveled to the Bahamas with Northrop Grumman’s chief executive as part of his protection detail. Paul Collis, the head of Collis & Associates, did not return calls for comment.

Davey said the investigation in Maryland concerns whether the troopers had approval to work secondary employment and use of the vehicles.

Virginia requires private armed guards to submit applications, complete weapons testing and be fingerprinted. Licenses must be renewed every year through the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.

Applicants in the District are vetted by the city’s police department and are required to submit forms from the company for which they are hired, along with an affidavit attesting to their work history, any criminal record and other information. Authorities said that the company can submit the forms for its employees but that each must also be fingerprinted and photographed wearing the uniform of their security company.

Davey would not say whether the troopers completed those requirements. He said his clients worked through the security company to become authorized.
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