ANNAPOLIS, JULY 12 -- A dark horse Republican candidate for Anne Arundel County executive, William J. Steiner, is scheduled to stand trial next month on charges of receiving stolen goods, according to court documents.
The 42-year-old Glen Burnie resident was arrested last November on two felony counts of possessing $3,800 worth of stolen property, including three shotguns and several appliances. His trial on those charges is set to begin Aug. 14 in District Court.
David Almy, the campaign manager of GOP county executive candidate Robert R. Neall, expressed surprise today at Steiner's legal problems but declined to comment.
Steiner, who is the owner of McDoogal's Seafood and Ribs in Pasadena, has built his political campaign around bringing legalized slot machines back to the county.
However, if convicted of a felony, Steiner would lose his right to vote and with it his eligibility to hold public office until he was no longer on probation. Depending on how the court interprets his case, he could be barred from the voter rolls permanently if convicted on both counts.
Under state law, possession of stolen goods worth more than $300 is a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine and a 15-year prison sentence.
In an interview today, Steiner declined to discuss the details of his legal difficulties or how they might affect his campaign, saying only that he is confident he will be acquitted.
"This is still America. I'm still innocent until proven guilty," he said.
Earlier, however, he indicated that if he is elected and succeeds in persuading the General Assembly to allow slot machines in Anne Arundel, he would use proceeds from the licensing and taxing of the "one-armed bandits" to give police officers pay raises and to hire additional officers.
Slot machines were legal in Anne Arundel, Charles, St. Mary's and Calvert counties from 1949 to 1968. They have been legal for use by nonprofit charities on the Eastern Shore since 1987.
The charges against Steiner result from police searches Nov. 20 at his home and restaurant. At his home, police seized three shotguns, worth a total of $3,000, that had been stolen from a Queen Anne's County man in 1983. While searching Steiner's restaurant, they found two ranges, a washer, a dryer and a range hood that were stolen late last year while being shipped to a Howard County appliance distributor and valued at a total of $800, the records show.
Daniel W. Simpson, an Anne Arunel detective who helped in the searches, said there is no evidence Steiner participated in the thefts of the merchandise. The warrants were obtained by a Baltimore County police officer based on conversations with a burglar now serving a 25-year sentence who named Steiner as one of his primary customers for fenced goods, but not the items the police confiscated from Steiner, Simpson said.
Simpson also said Steiner has told investigators he did not know the guns and appliances were stolen.
Steiner, in an interview, said he bought the guns at a sporting goods store eight years ago from a man who was trying to sell them to the store's manager. However, he would not comment on the source of the appliances, which police say they think were stolen last fall.
Even without knowing of Steiner's arrest, political observers here had predicted the first-time candidate would have little chance of winning the Sept. 11 primary, which pits him against Neall, former House of Delegates minority leader. Steiner, who did not vote in 1986 or 1988, filed for the race just hours before last week's deadline.