Joseph C. Sauerwein, the deputy state's attorney in Prince George's County, was suspended with pay yesterday until the completion of a prosecutor's office probe of his involvement in two hit-and-run accidents on the night of April 26.
State's Attorney Arthur A. Marshall, in announcing the suspension of his top assistant, said he hoped to make a decision "by the end of the week" on whether to charge Sauerwein in the hit-and-run incidents.
"I'm not going to keep paying someone who's not working," Marshall said.
The Washington Post reported Sunday that Sauerwein, 43, embarked on a wild driving spree that led to the two hit-and-run incidents after serveral 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 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.
Marshall said he has requested a copy of police reports of the incidents. The Prince George's police have launched their own investigation of the department's handling of the two hit-and-run accidents. Sauerwein was never charged by police in either incident.
Sauerwein joined the prosecutor's office in 1967. Since becoming deputy state's attorney in 1972, he has been entrusted with many of the most difficult and highly publicized cases the office has handled.
Last summer, he obtained a first-degree murder conviction against Charles M. Wantland, the parolee who murdered a 12-year-old Clinton boy. He also prosecuted Eugene T. Meyer, who was charged with murder in a "you kill my wife, I'll kill yours" scheme with Lon A. Lewis.
Marshall said yesterday that Sauerwein's duties would be assumed temporarily by Assistant State's Attorney Bond E. Rhue.
In both hit-and-run cases, Sauerwein paid the owners of the vehicles for the damage he caused, and persuaded them to sign statements releasing him form liability. In one case, he was assisted by a Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles inspector, who interceded on Sauerwein's hehalf with the owner of one of the vehicles.
The acting administrator of the Motor Vehicle Administration, William T. S. Bricker, yesterday reprimanded the employe, Charles Ralls, for his actions.
Efforts to reach Sauerwein for comment were unsuccessful yesterday. He did not return reporters' phone calls.