Norris Sentenced to Six Months in Prison
Former Baltimore Chief Is Also Fined for Fraud
By Eric Rich
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 22, 2004; Page B03
BALTIMORE, June 21 -- Former Maryland State Police superintendent Edward T. Norris was sentenced to six months in prison Monday by a federal judge who chastised him for illegally spending thousands of dollars in police funds on expensive gifts, extramarital liaisons and other indulgences.
Noting that the spending spree, while Norris was Baltimore police commissioner, "tarnished" the public trust after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett likened Norris and his former chief of staff, John Stendrini, to "soldiers who went AWOL during a crucial time." Norris, 43, wept in court as he accepted responsibility. "I've said I was sorry for this many, many times," said Norris, accompanied by his wife and parents. "I'll be saying it for the rest of my life."
Norris, 43, who was appointed state police superintendent after Robert L. Ehrlich's election as governor in 2002, admitted that he misappropriated up to $30,000 from Baltimore police funds from 2000 to 2002, while he was city police commissioner. He left the state police after being indicted in December and pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit fraud and filing a false income tax return.
Stendrini, 60, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud, also appeared before Bennett on Monday and was put on probation for three years and fined $10,000.
Besides being sentenced to prison, Norris was fined $10,000 and ordered to serve three years of probation after his release, with the first six months under home detention.
Norris's attorneys sought leniency for their client and submitted letters of support from public officials in Maryland and elsewhere. Among them were former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former New York police commissioner Howard Safir. Norris worked for 35 years in the New York City police department.
Although the indictment of Norris contains numerous references to police funds illegally spent on extramarital liaisons and expensive gifts for women, Norris's wife tearfully pleaded for leniency for her husband, telling Bennett that Norris is her "loving and loyal companion."
"He's the kind of man who can't look the other way when something is wrong," Kate Norris said.
But Bennett noted that Norris continued indulging himself with ill-gotten luxuries even after the 2001 terrorist attacks. "This was not the time to go off on a lark and spend money on personal pleasures," Bennett said. "This was the wrong time for two outstanding cops to make a mistake."
In December, U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio's office alleged that Norris and Stendrini withdrew thousands of dollars from a Baltimore police fund "as if it were their own ATM." Prosecutors did not request a specific sentence Monday, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason M. Weinstein said, "Mr. Norris was sworn to uphold the law, but he was arrogant enough to believe he was above the law."
Norris attorney David B. Irwin said outside court that Norris has been living in Tampa, where he is unemployed, caring for his 5-year-old son while his wife, an artist, supports the family. He described Norris as "disappointed and resigned."
After the sentence was imposed, Norris looked over his left shoulder. He mouthed a few words to his wife. She nodded and then, after he turned back, began to cry.
"He's obviously sorry he made serious mistakes, and now he's going to pay a very high price for that," Irwin said outside of court. Norris is to begin serving the prison term within 30 days. Bennett said he would recommend the minimum-security facility at Eglin Air Force base in Florida.
Staff writer Matthew Mosk contributed to this report.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Norris told the court he would be sorry "for the rest of my life."
In some editions of the Post, a June 22 Metro article on the sentencing of former Maryland State Police superintendent Edward T. Norris incorrectly stated that he worked in the New York Police Department for 35 years. Norris was a 20-year veteran of the NYPD; his co-defendant, John Stendrini, served 35 years in the department.
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