For the second time in a month, a court commissioner in Montgomery County — a position akin to a low-level judge — was charged with a sex-related crime, according to court records.
Daniel Read, 30, faces one count of sexual solicitation of a minor, police officials said Wednesday. They accused him of using social media and text messages to set up a meeting with a person who said he was 15. Read actually was communicating with a detective pretending to be a teen with the user name “Kinky Twinkie,” according to arrest records.
Previously, another court commissioner, Israel Mangroo, 31, was accused of using his smartphone to take a video up a woman’s skirt in his office at the county jail, according to court records.
In Maryland, court commissioners review applications submitted by detectives and other police officers, deciding whether there is probable cause to bring criminal charges against suspects. They also set initial bonds for suspects booked into jails.
Mangroo left his position as a commissioner in late November after allegations against him surfaced. His attorney, David Martella, has denied the accusations, saying his client’s version of events “differs significantly” from those described by police.
Read’s attorney, Ahmet Hisim, said Wednesday that his client is innocent. “We anticipate a vigorous defense,” Hisim said.
Read, of Germantown, no longer is a court commissioner, having left the job as allegations against him surfaced, Hisim said. “He took his job seriously and wanted to be a good commissioner,” Hisim said.
Hisim acknowledged that Read communicated with a person and did not know that the person was a detective. Hisim said he does not think Read was intending to have sex when he agreed to the meeting. “Everything I know about him is that he is a well-intentioned, good-hearted person,” Hisim said. “I don’t believe he had any intentions of hurting anyone.”
Maryland has more than 240 district court commissioners. And the allegations involving Read and Mangroo have caught officials’ attention.
“We take these matters very seriously, and there is a zero tolerance for these types of behaviors,” Maryland Chief District Judge John P. Morrissey said through a court spokeswoman Wednesday.
Court commissioner applicants must have a college degree. Each finalist has face-to-face interviews with local court officials and undergoes two criminal background checks. The local officials pare down their lists and send recommended names to Morrissey’s office for the ultimate appointments.
“They go through a very thorough and comprehensive background check,” Morrissey said through the spokeswoman.
According to Read’s arrest records, on Oct. 28, a Montgomery detective created a profile on a social-media network, and a person named “Dan” began communicating with him. The detective initially held out that he was a 17-year-old high-school student with the Kinky Twinkie user name, arrest documents show, but as he communicated with Read, he said he actually was 15.
Eventually, the two agreed to meet on the morning of Dec. 3 at a McDonald’s restaurant in Germantown, according to police.
When Read pulled up in his silver Volkswagen Golf, police were waiting and took him into custody, court records state.
Later, when asked questions as part of a standard initial-appearance questionnaire, Read reported his occupation as a district court commissioner in Montgomery County. He posted a $50,000 bond and was released from the jail, according to court records.
Read began working as a district court commissioner in 2013, according to state officials. He left his position as of Dec. 7, the officials said.
Police said that anyone with information about Read can call the county’s Vice and Intelligence Unit at 240-773-5958.