A federal jury in Alexandria deliberated for about two hours yesterday in the perjury trial of Alexandria Police Chief Charles T. Strobel after his attorneys presented no evidence in his defense and argued that the government failed to prove he lied to a federal grand jury.
Strobel, who is on paid administrative leave, is on trial for allegedly "testifying evasively and falsely" last year before a grand jury that was investigating alleged corruption in the city's police department. He also is charged with obstructing justice in connection with his testimony.
The jury, which will resume deliberations today, will decide whether Strobel, who has been police chief since 1977, lied by saying he could not recall details of allegations of sexual misconduct against an Alexandria police officer and two Fairfax County vice officers and when he denied quashing investigations into them.
The government rested its case yesterday, the second day of the trial in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, after presenting four witnesses who testified they brought the allegations concerning the three officers to Strobel's attention in the 1970s.
The four, all former Alexandria police officers, said Strobel had told them not to investigate the charges.
Although the government's case rested on circumstantial evidence, Justice Department attorney Peter George told the jury that because of the "gravity" of the sexual misconduct allegations it may be inferred that Strobel was lying when he said he did not remember hearing them.
U.S. Attorney Justin Williams argued that Strobel said he denied stopping investigations of the allegations "because he would have had to answer the next question . . . Why?"
In rebuttal, Strobel's chief attorney, Plato Cacheris, argued that Strobel did not tell the grand jury he never heard the allegations. "He said, 'I do remember hearing about all these matters, but I don't recall the details,' " Cacheris said.
The jury has been supplied with the transcript of Strobel's two-day grand jury testimony.
"It's not really strange not to remember details of something that happened 12 years ago," Cacheris said.
"Whether he's a good or bad police manager is not your concern; whether there were sexual assaults is not your concern," Cacheris argued. "Your concern is: Did he lie?"
U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams denied a motion by Cacheris to acquit Strobel, saying he wanted the case to go before a jury in "fairness to him and to the citizens of Alexandria."
Former Alexandria police officer John F. Miller, now deputy chief of the Rockville police department, testified yesterday that in 1978 he and Capt. Larry Brohard, now acting deputy chief of the Alexandria department, played a tape for Strobel on which a prostitute said she had had sexual relations with an Alexandria police officer.
Both Miller and Brohard testified Strobel told them not to look into the allegations because they were "too old." But Brohard said he could not recall playing the tape for Strobel in that meeting.