John Leopold trial: Anne Arundel employee says she had to drain county exec’s catheter


Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold answers questions while presenting the county's legislative package during a hearing at the Lowe House Office Building earlier this month. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)
January 18, 2013

When Patricia Medlin saw John Leopold standing in her doorway, she knew what that meant: time to empty her boss’s urine bag.

At the misconduct trial of Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold on Friday, his former scheduler Patricia Medlin, 63, described her thrice-daily chore of draining Leopold’s catheter for nearly a year.

Emptying the urine bag was one of many personal tasks that Leopold, 69, allegedly had Medlin and members of his security detail perform throughout 2010. The Republican leader of Maryland’s fourth-largest county faces four counts of misconduct and one count of misappropriating funds, which carries a sentence of up to five years.

Leopold, who won a second term in 2010, is also accused of having members of his security detail ferry him to parking-lot sexual encounters with a county employee, compile dossiers on political rivals and accompany him as he tore down an opponent’s campaign signs. After back surgery, he allegedly had protection officers prevent his live-in girlfriend and his mistress from running into each other at the hospital, at a cost to the county of more than $10,000 in overtime pay.

If Leopold is convicted, the County Council could remove him from office.

Oral arguments began Friday before Circuit Court Judge Dennis Sweeney, after Leopold on Thursday waived his right to a jury trial.

In opening statements, the defense and prosecution presented divergent portraits of Leopold.

State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt depicted Leopold as an elected official who misused employees for personal and political benefit.

By contrast, defense attorney Bruce Marcus described Leopold as a devoted public servant who was hobbled by severe back pain and needed extra help. He said the allegations are based on a “highly subjective view of conduct.”

“If in fact it was a crime, it was absolutely the worst-kept secret in the world,” Marcus said, committed “not only with the knowledge but the absolute complicity of law enforcement.”

Most of the day’s witnesses were involved in the creation and duties of the security detail under former county executive Janet Owens.

Under questioning by Marcus, two former county police officials who helped set up the detail during Owens’s administration said there are no written guidelines or “do’s and don’ts” for protection officers. Marcus also tried to raise doubts about whether the officers deemed their activities illegal at the time, suggesting they only did so after Leopold called for an inquiry of their overtime pay.

He addressed Leopold’s alleged vandalism of an opponent’s campaign signs by saying it was legal to remove signs from public right of ways. He tried to justify the use of protection officers to put up signs by saying “Welcome Maryland” signs bearing the governor’s name are taxpayer-supported political signs intended to promote the official, and not so different than Leopold using officers and staff to put up campaign posters.

Marcus went on at length about Leopold’s back and bladder issues, illustrated by blown-up MRIs of Leopold’s spine. Leopold suffered from spinal stenosis and was operated on twice in 2010.

While Leopold was hospitalized, Constance Casalena, a county employee with whom he was allegedly having an affair, tried to visit and “caused a scene,” testified Medlin, who still works for the county.

The incident prompted Leopold to ask for an extra officer to keep Casalena at bay, she said.

After he was discharged, Leopold told Medlin he would need help with his catheter. Medlin testified that she felt she could not object for fear of being branded disloyal and losing her job.

“You don’t tell him, ‘no,’ ” she said.

Once Leopold summoned her, she would follow him into a bathroom where he kept an empty green coffee can under the sink.

“I would get on my hands and knees,” she said, crying as she described emptying the bag into the coffee can and dumping the contents of the can into a toilet.

Medlin spoke up in January 2011, after seeing him bend down and tie his shoelace.

“[I] knew he could change his own catheter,” she said.

Annys Shin has been a staff writer at the Washington Post since 2004.
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