All things considered, the seven-minute traffic court trial went pretty well for Eugene Matusevitch. He was fined $50, but there was no conviction and no points were lodged against his driving record.
Several hours later, though, he just couldn’t seem to let it go.
And that’s why the 34-year-old from Bethesda, Md., is due back in court Jan. 9 — this time accused of sending a barrage of obscene and harassing text messages to the Montgomery County officer who handed him the citation.
“Nice job in court today playing up to the judge so he didn’t waive ticket,” Matusevitch allegedly wrote. “All good, I still make a lot of money.”
Three minutes later came another.
“You there fatboy? On a donut break?” Matusevitch wrote, according to court filings, adding that he knew what kind of car the officer drove in his private life — a Honda Civic — and sizing up the Civic against his four-door BMW. “No wonder you hate people like me with nice cars.”
Matusevitch, who has worked in sales and audio production, also sent a Facebook message to the officer’s father, according to court records, insulting his son’s salary and calling his son a glorified mall cop: “You must be so proud.”
Matusevitch is charged with three counts of obscene misuse of a phone and one count of harassing electronic communication. The misdemeanors are punishable — in total — by up to 10 years in jail.
The officer, Dominick Stanley, has patrolled the Bethesda area for nearly four years. The department said he would not comment on the case. One of his supervisors, Capt. Paul Liquorie, said Stanley is an active officer, writes a lot of tickets and speaks with people in a matter-of-fact, low-key manner. He was named the Bethesda District's Officer of the Month in September.
According to court documents, after the traffic court trial on Nov. 14, where Matusevitch was assessed $25.50 in court costs, Stanley began receiving text messages from Matusevitch — 17 of them in 59 minutes. Eight were laced with vulgarities and cutting insults. One included Stanley’s Social Security number, followed by three exclamation points. Two of the texts were simply photographs of the officer.
The next day, Stanley received 21 telephone calls from various people saying they were returning his queries about getting addiction treatment, even though, according to the allegations, Stanley had never requested such help.
Later, Stanley texted Matusevitch asking him to stop communicating with him and his family.
Two days later, Matusevitch responded, saying he would stop, but tacking on three more insults and a correction to how Stanley had spelled the word communication, court filings show.
Matusevitch declined to comment, referring questions to his attorney, who said that it is too early in the case to know whether the allegations are accurate or how his client will plead.
“It doesn’t seem to be consistent with his demeanor,” the attorney, Steven Kupferberg, said. “I don’t think there’s any danger to the community or this police officer.”
Kupferberg compared the allegations against Matusevitch to those in a disorderly conduct case, when someone is accused of berating and yelling at a police officer on the streets. “I don’t think he should be treated any differently than those charged in disorderly cases, which generally aren’t jailable offenses,” Kupferberg said.
Kupferberg said he will explore reasons his client may have written the texts, including whether he has bouts of anger that pull him away from his normal bearing. “We’re taking appropriate steps to address any issues,” Kupferberg said.
Speaking generally, but not about his client, Kupferberg said: “The police have a hard job. And they certainly don’t deserve to hear some of the things said to them.”
Matusevitch was born in London and spent of his much of his life in Bethesda, according to court records. He received an undergraduate degree in political science in 2006 from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, according to a school spokeswoman.
Matusevitch later worked in audio production editing, and held sales jobs for financial and software companies, according to a LinkedIn profile. As of last month, according to court records, he was unemployed.
Stanley is not obese, said his captain, Liquorie, who described him as about 6 feet 3 inches tall, physically fit with a big frame.
As for Stanley’s salary — which Matusevitch put at $40,000 in the texts attributed to him in court — it was $56,478 in 2016, with an additional overtime of $13,254, according to Montgomery County government records.
It was a no-turn sign at an intersection that brought Stanley and Matusevich together.
Stanley was assigned to a traffic-enforcement detail in late afternoon Aug. 28, at the intersection of Leland Street and Woodmont Avenue in downtown Bethesda. He parked his cruiser on Leland, stood outside it and signaled drivers to pull over if they turned on to Leland from Woodmont — something barred from 4 to 7 p.m. during the week, according to a sign along Woodmont.
At 6:50 p.m., the officer later testified, the driver of a black BMW made a swift turn on to Leland, where Stanley signaled him to stop. Stanley told the judge the driver was immediately hostile and that “he said that we were just minimum-wage security guards.”
“Skip that,” District Judge Thomas Love said. “Skip that part.”
“Yeah, seriously,” Matusevitch said in the courtroom.
In his testimony, Matusevitch said he explained to Stanley at the scene that he hadn’t noticed the sign, and that he would appreciate a break.
“And of course using common sense and courtesy was too much for this guy,” he told the judge in a reference to the officer.
“So here we are.”
“What’d you just say?” Love shot back.
In short order, the judge concluded Matusevitch was indeed admitting to making the illegal turn. Love asked him why he had pleaded not guilty.
“I guess technically it could be guilty with an explanation,” Matusevitch said.
“It makes a big difference. Do you want to change your plea?” Love asked.
“I guess,” said Matusevitch.
“I don’t want you to guess,” the judge said before Matusevitch replied, “Sure, okay, I’ll change it to guilty with an explanation.”
“Probation before judgment,” Love announced. “The fine’s $50 and costs. You just saved a ton of money, and you will not get the points.”
“Thank you,” Matusevitch said.
“Thank you, your honor,” Stanley said, saying he had no more cases on the docket. “That concludes my matters.”
But though one case ended, detectives now say, a volley of texts launched another.
Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.