State prosecutor subpoenas three officers before grand jury in Leopold probe

By Nicole Fuller
Saturday, March 19, 2011; 12:54 AM

The Maryland state prosecutor began calling witnesses Friday before a grand jury investigating Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold's alleged misuse of his security detail during last year's campaign.

Three police officers assigned to that detail appeared at County Circuit Court in Annapolis to testify before a grand jury after being subpoenaed, according to their attorneys, who declined to comment further. The officers, in plainclothes, also declined to comment.

State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt, who is appointed by the governor and whose office handles cases involving public officials, declined to answer questions at the courthouse. "Just here handling state business, can't confirm or deny anything," he said.

State investigators are looking into whether Leopold directed his county-funded security detail to carry out tasks related to his reelection campaign, according to people interviewed in recent days in connection with the probe. Leopold received a subpoena requiring him to turn over documents but not to appear before a grand jury, his spokesman said.

An attorney acting on behalf of the officers said earlier this week that they were negotiating an immunity deal to allow them to testify without threat of prosecution. The officers are Cpl. Howard Brown and Cpl. Mark Walker, who work full-time, and Cpl. Joseph Pazulski, who works part-time.

County Police Chief James Teare Sr. defended the officers Friday.

"I have full faith and confidence that our officers acted legally, morally and ethically," Teare said. "I have no reason to believe at this point that our officers acted any way other than that."

Leopold, a Republican, did not respond through his spokesman Dave Abrams to repeated requests seeking comment Friday.

The state prosecutor's office on Wednesday served Leopold, who last year won a second term, with a subpoena seeking his schedule from 2008 till now. The subpoena requires him to answer questions about the schedule, but Abrams said he thought turning it over would satisfy the request.

Leopold has said his security detail carried out tasks for him as he recovered from two back surgeries last year, though he said he could not recall specifics. He has called allegations of impropriety "political retaliation" for a change he initiated to the binding arbitration agreement between the county and its public safety employees.

- Baltimore Sun

Sun reporter Andrea Siegel contributed to this report.

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