The former second in command at the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office was found guilty of administrative violations in connection with improper release of building materials to a relative, the department said in a statement Friday.
The case of Lt. Steven M. Doolan, a 20-year veteran and former assistant sheriff, was examined by three police officers from outside Southern Maryland in an internal police trial.
Authorities said Doolan was charged with "various violations" of the Sheriff's Office Administrative and Patrol Manual and the Manual of Policies and Procedure for county employees.
The charges related to the release of more than $20,000 in property, seized by detectives in a 1999 theft investigation, to Doolan's stepson and a friend.
Sheriff David D. Zylak (D) declined Friday to identify the specific allegations but said the trial board found Doolan guilty of the various charges. The board recommended that Doolan be demoted to sergeant and be suspended for 30 working days, authorities said.
Zylak said once he receives the official written recommendation from the trial board, he has 30 days to adopt it or decide on another punishment.
"I'll wait until the written recommendation comes in before making a decision," he said.
Doolan did not return a phone call Friday afternoon seeking comment.
His role in the disappearance of hundreds of items of construction materials from a sheriff's office warehouse in 2002 remains unclear.
The findings of a year-long investigation by the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor and an internal probe by the Sheriff's Office have not been released to the public.
A federal lawsuit filed by a Lexington Park man in 2002, when Doolan was a captain, alleged that he ordered a subordinate to give out lumber, cinder blocks, drywall and other materials confiscated in a 1999 raid.
Some of the property went to Michael Bowes, Doolan's stepson, the lawsuit says.
In 2002, then-Sheriff Richard J. Voorhaar demoted Doolan to lieutenant and asked for an investigation.