Prince George's County State's Attorney Arthur A. Marshall Jr. and acting police Chief Joseph D. Vasco yesterday announced separate investigations of two hit-and-run accidents involving deputy state's attorney Joseph C. Auerwein last April 26.
Marshall said yesterday that he was informed of Sauerwein's involvement in an auto accident more than a week ago, but did not know that his top prosecutor had left the scene of the two collisions and had not inquired about the incidents.
The Washington Post reported yesterday that Sauerwein, 43, embarked on a wild driving spree that led to the two hit-and-run incidents after several hours of drinking following an office lunch at a Camp Springs restaurant.
After speeding from the scene of both accidents, Sauerwein encouraged owners of the vehicles he struck not to call the police, encouraged police not to file charges against him, and denied to a police officer that he had been driving in one of the incidents, according to witnesses and documents.
"I will look into the allegations," Marshall said. "If he (Sauerwein) was involved with two hit-and-runs he will be charged like anyone else."
Meanwhile, Vasco said he would order a police department investigation of the actions of two police officers who declined to charge Sauerwein after learning that his car had been involved in hit-and-run incidents that caused about $1,200 in damage to a parked car and a pickup truck.
Vasco said he was concerned that the two officers apparently did not communicate with each other during their investigations, even though at least one of the officers knew that Sauerwein had been involved in two accidents.
"I need to know why (the officer) didn't get together with the other officer," Vasco said. "My question is, 'Why?'"
Prince George's Executive Lawrence Hogan said yesterday that reports of Sauerwein's invovement in the hit-and-runs were "very disturbing," and that he had ordered a full report from the police.
"There is a possibility of disciplinary action against the police officers involved," Hogan said, But I'm not going to do anything until I hear from the police department."
Prince George's Council Chairman William B. Amonett also said yesterday that he regarded the reports concerning Sauerwein as "very serious." yAmonett said he would ask council attorneys to determine if the council should investigate the matter. He said he would ask for reports from Marshall and Vasco.
In both of the hit-and-run cases, Sauerwein paid the owners of the vehicles for the damage he caused and persuaded them to sign statements releasing him from liability. In one case, the prosecutor was assisted by a Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles investigator who interceded on Sauerwein's behalf with the owner of the truck.
William T. S. Bricker, the acting administrator of the state motor vehicles administration, said yesterday that the actions of the investigator, Charles Ralls, did not conform to the department's policy.
Bricker said he would make inquiries this week to determine whether Ralls' actions were improper.
Sources said Marshall learned of Sauerwein's involvement in the two accidents when press assistant Ronald Cooper, who was a passenger in Sauerwein's car, told Marshall that he and Sauerwein had been involved in an accident and that Cooper had been injured.
In a telephone interview Thursday, Marshall denied knowing about any accident involving Sauerwein and Cooper, then prohibited his employes from speaking to two reporters investigating the accidents.
Sauerwein could not be reached yesterday for comment. He was reported to be out of town for the weekend.