Sweeney described the behavior of the second-term Republican as “outrageous, egregious and wildly beyond” any authority he has as county executive and said his treatment of his scheduler, Patricia Medlin, in particular was “predatory and cruel.”
But Sweeney acquitted Leopold of a more serious charge of misappropriating funds. He also was acquitted of the more salacious charge of using his security detail to ferry him to sexual encounters with a county employee in a bowling alley’s parking lot and then helping him conceal the liaison from his live-in girlfriend. The judge said that the officers were required to guard Leopold regardless of the purpose of his trip, no matter how tawdry.
Still, the conviction will probably end a political career that has spanned more than 40 years and two states. Leopold represented the county in the House of Delegates for two decades before being elected county executive in 2006. He also was a state lawmaker in Hawaii and ran unsuccessfully there for governor.
Officials said the law mandates Leopold’s immediate removal from office as head of the state’s fourth-largest county. But even so, officials plan to use a provision in the county charter to ensure that he leaves. County Council Chairman Jerry Walker said that on Wednesday, he will introduce a bill for removal. The full council would then vote on it Monday. Five of the seven council members would have to consent in order for the bill to pass.
“It is a very sad situation we find ourselves in,” Walker said. “I am happy to see this part is behind us. We do have a government to run.”
John Hammond, Anne Arundel’s chief administrative officer, would serve as acting county executive, officials said.
Sweeney issued his verdicts after a two-week trial and after Leopold waived his right to a jury trial. No sentencing date has been set, but Sweeney’s options include probation, minor jail time and fines.
Leopold, 69, declined to comment after the trial. Emmet Davitt, the state prosecutor, also declined to comment.
Prosecutors portrayed Leopold as a bully who intimidated his employees into doing what he wanted, even if they thought it was wrong.
The trial’s most compelling testimony came from Medlin, 63, who described how several times a day over nearly a year, her boss would summon her to drain urine from his catheter bag. Leopold required the catheter after back surgery in February 2010.
Medlin cried as she detailed how she had to follow him into a restroom and get on her hands and knees to empty the urine into a coffee can kept under the sink. In early 2011, she became upset after seeing Leopold bend down to tie his shoelace, and she realized that he had been making her do it even though he was able to do it himself. The prosecution dubbed Leopold’s behavior as “catheter abuse.”