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John Leopold defense: County executive’s actions not misconduct

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Attorneys for Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold made one last attempt on Monday to convince Judge Dennis Sweeney to throw out the remaining four charges against Leopold, as his misconduct trial draws to a close.

Leopold, who presides over the fourth largest county in Maryland, faces three counts of misconduct and one count of fraudulently misappropriating county funds, charges that carry a sentence of up to five years.

He is accused of misusing his security detail and other staffers for personal and political purposes, such as ferrying him to parking lot trysts with a married county employee, working overtime to put up campaign posters, and draining his catheter bag. If convicted, the second-term Republican could be removed from office.

The defense, after resting its case Monday without Leopold taking the witness stand, tried once more to convince Sweeney in a subsequent motions hearing, that the government is defining misconduct in vague terms. Prosecutors have argued that while some individual allegations in the indictment may not be illegal, they were part of a “cumulative pattern” of criminal misconduct.

The defense seemed to make some headway with its argument when Sweeney questioned how prosecutors could justify “cherry picking” incidents in a long career. Leopold has been county executive since 2006 and the indictment is based on events from 2010, when Leopold had two back surgeries and was seeking reelection.

Sweeney on Friday dismissed one count of misconduct related to Leopold’s use of protection officers to drive him as he tore down an opponent’s campaign signs. He is expected to rule on the new dismissal motions on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Closing arguments are expected to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

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