A Prince George's County judge, saying medical treatment he was receiving for an infected ear had caused him "dizziness" and "confusion," yesterday pleaded guilty in U.S. Magistrates Court in Alexandria to charges of disorderly conduct and creating a nuisance and paid a $100 fine.
Four other charges including "obscene and immoral acts and soliciting for immoral purposes" against District Court Judge Louis J. DiTrani, were dropped by federal prosecutors as part of a plea bargain agreement.
The charges stemmed from DiTrani's arrest July 31 at the Belle Haven Marina in Alexandria after he allegedly approached two male U.S. Park Police plainclothes officers and solicited sexual favors from them.
Robert F. Sweeney, Maryland's chief District Court judge, said yesterday he had requested all the papers relating to DiTrani's case and will make a decision sometime next week on whether or not to allow DiTrani to resume his courtroom duties.
DiTrani, 52, took several days of sick leave after his arrest because "he was obviously distraught," Sweeney said. He was then put on paid administrative leave, performing tasks "of a very light, occasional nature," Sweeney said.
"Happily, I have no precedents for this," said Sweeney, who said he could recall only two other instances when Maryland judges were charged with crimes. One of those was reassigned and the other retired, he said.
Any disciplinary action against DiTrani will be up to the Commission on Judicial Disabilities, which is headed by Richard Gilbert, chief judge of the Court of Special Appeals.
That commission holds its deliberations in secret.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph J. Aronica said that the disposition of DiTrani's case yesterday was "a normal disposition on a first offense for charges of this kind."
DiTrani's judicial colleagues said they were stunned at the time of his arrest and yesterday Sweeney called his case "tragic."
Flanked by two lawyers, DiTrani stood before U.S. Magistrate W. Curtis Sewell to make his plea, quietly answering "No, sir," when asked by Sewell if had any statement to make.
U.S. Attorney Carroll Weimar told Sewell the government agreed to drop the remaining charges and would not recommend any sentence. Weimar said that if a trial were held the two U.S. Park Policemen would testify that DiTrani approached them while they were on a plainclothes detail at the Marina and asked them to accompany him into the nearby woods.
His lawyer, Louis Koutoulakos, entered into the record a letter from Dr. Zafar Iqbal, who said that he had seen DiTrani on the afternoon of July 31 and treated him for an infected ear by cleansing the inner ear and applying gentian violet, a topical disinfectant.
Iqbal's letter said that in his opinion the treatment can "cause temporary dizziness, loss of hearing and possibly confusion and lack of perception."
After the brief court appearance, Koutoulakos said DiTrani "was upset and suffering from confusion," on the day of his arrest. Koutoulakas also said DiTrani's car had broken down in the vicinity of Belle Haven Marina, about a mile south of the Wilson Bridge on the Virginia side of the Potomac.
Koutoulakos said DiTrani "has been under great emotional strain. It's all been a nightmare for him."
DiTrani, who was accompanied by his wife, declined comment. He previously denied all the charges.
DiTrani was appointed to the nine-member District Court in 1978. Before his appointment to the bench, he was legal counsel to former state senator Fred Wineland (D-Prince George's); served on the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and was chairman of the county's Property Tax Appeals Board.
He also served on the board of Prince George's County Community College.