Leopold, 69, was not arrested, and his attorney suggested that he would not step down.
The indictment by an Anne Arundel grand jury marks the latest charges in a succession of local and federal corruption prosecutions that have recently cast a pall over Maryland politics.
Leopold’s indictment comes more than three years after an anonymous 911 call describing naked people in the back of a rocking car led a police officer to a busy Annapolis mall parking lot and a car containing Leopold.
That incident prompted a number of county employees to come forward with allegations of sexual harassment by Leopold. But he remained in office and won reelection in 2010.
“It’s sad, and it’s disappointing. . . . Now it will be more of a distraction again,” said Anne Arundel County Council member James Benoit (D-Crownsville). “These charges are really serious. It’s going to be a tough few months for the county.”
With the charges, Leopold becomes the latest Maryland politician to face a reckoning after being dogged for years by rumors of corruption.
In recent months, Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) and his wife, Leslie, a former County Council member, were sentenced to prison in connection with a bribery scheme involving developers. The campaign manager to former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) was found guilty of attempting to suppress black voter turnout. And a corruption probe against state Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George’s) ended with an acquittal in court but left the powerful budget chair as the first sitting Maryland lawmaker to be censured in two decades.
Jim Cabezas, a spokesman for the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor, which led the investigation of Leopold, said a criminal summons was sent to Leopold’s attorney. Leopold was indicted on four counts of misconduct in office and one count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary.
The misappropriation charge is a criminal misdemeanor that would carry a sentence of one to five years. The remaining charges allege common-law violations, which means a judge would have wide latitude in sentencing if Leopold is found guilty.
Bruce Marcus, Leopold’s attorney, said in a brief phone interview that he had not received the summons or seen the indictment.
In an e-mailed statement to reporters, he said that although he had not received the documents, “we understand that the charges contain scurrilous, salacious and scandalous accusations better suited to cheap tabloids and not befitting charging documents filed in a Maryland court of law.”