Three Mary­land public safety of­fi­cials lose jobs

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael Dresser and Justin Fen­ton

Three high-level of­fi­cials in the Mary­land depart­ment that runs the state prison sys­tem, in­clud­ing its top in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer, have been re­moved from of­fice af­ter be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for al­leged mis­con­duct.

The three of­fi­cials in the of­fice of Sec­re­tary Stephen T. Moyer were re­moved from the state pay­roll Tues­day, said Ger­ard Shields, a spokesman for the Depart­ment of Public Safety and Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices.

Shields said the of­fi­cials were in­ves­ti­gated af­ter sep­a­rate al­le­ga­tions of mis­con­duct sur­faced. He said state per­son­nel law pre­vented him from pro­vid­ing de­tails, in­clud­ing the rea­son for their de­par­tures.

He said their de­par­tures were not re­lated to the in­dict­ments of 80 peo­ple this month in an al­leged smug­gling ring at the East­ern Cor­rec­tional In­sti­tute in Som­er­set County.

The of­fi­cials in­clude Steven F. Geppi, di­rec­tor of the depart­ment’s In­ves­ti­ga­tion, In­tel­li­gence and Fugi­tive Ap­pre­hen­sion unit.

Geppi is a for­mer Mary­land State Po­lice col­league of Moyer. Moyer was brought in by Gov. Larry Ho­gan with the charge of root­ing out cor­rup­tion in the depart­ment.

Shields said the oth­ers are John A. Spiroff, di­rec­tor of the In­tel­li­gence and In­ves­tiga­tive Di­vi­sion, and De­bra Gon­za­lez Morin, head of the in­tel­li­gence unit.

Shields said Spiroff and Gon­za­lez Morin re­ported to Geppi, and Geppi re­ported to Moyer.

The mat­ter in­volv­ing Spiroff was sep­a­rate from the one in­volv­ing Geppi and Gon­za­lez Morin, Shields said.

Geppi and Gon­za­lez Morin, con­tacted Wed­nes­day night, agreed that their de­par­tures were not con­nected with Spiroff’s. Both said they were fired with­out ex­pla­na­tion af­ter they had played in­te­gral roles in ex­pos­ing cor­rup­tion at ECI.

“They in­formed me that they wouldn’t tell me what the al­le­ga­tions were or any­thing else,” Geppi said. “I’ve been rail­roaded and not sup­ported by the ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

On Tues­day, Geppi said he was fired by Moyer and seven or eight other em­ploy­ees of the unit had been placed on leave. He said those em­ploy­ees are pro­tected by the Cor­rec­tional Of­fi­cers’ Bill of Rights. Geppi and Gon­za­lez Morin said they could be fired at will.

Gon­za­lez Morin said she was ques­tioned by the Mary­land State Po­lice about al­leged sex­ual mis­con­duct in her di­vi­sion. Geppi and Gon­za­lez Morin both said the al­le­ga­tions were un­founded.

“This is a witch hunt,” Gon­za­lez Morin said. “We made a lot of peo­ple an­gry be­cause we fight cor­rup­tion.”

Spiroff could not be reached for com­ment, but Gon­za­lez Morin said he played only a mi­nor role in the ECI in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Moyer said in a state­ment that depart­ment em­ploy­ees re­ported al­leged mis­con­duct to him on Oct. 11. He said the em­ploy­ees were put on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave and he asked the state po­lice In­ter­nal Af­fairs Di­vi­sion to help con­duct an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The sec­re­tary said he later re­ceived “an ad­di­tional com­plaint on an un­re­lated mat­ter.”

“This is an ac­tive, in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” Moyer said. “Upon its con­clu­sion, ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion will be taken.”

State records show that Geppi earned $109,000 a year. Spiroff earned $91,000; Morin earned $81,000.

The de­par­tures come three weeks af­ter a fed­eral grand jury handed down in­dict­ments against 80 in­mates, cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers and oth­ers for an al­leged rack­e­teer­ing scheme op­er­at­ing within ECI, the state’s largest prison.

Of­fi­cials pointed to the in­dict­ment as ev­i­dence of their ded­i­ca­tion to root­ing out cor­rup­tion. They said there were open in­ves­ti­ga­tions in fa­cil­i­ties across the state.

Shields con­firmed that Geppi’s unit was a par­tic­i­pant in the ECI in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He de­clined to say what roles Geppi, Spiroff or Gon­za­lez Morin might have played.

Geppi, a re­tired Mary­land State Po­lice com­man­der, joined the depart­ment in March 2015 as di­rec­tor of in­ves­ti­ga­tions and in­tel­li­gence. Spiroff was hired in Novem­ber 2015. Shields said Gon­za­lez Morin was a 16-year depart­ment em­ployee.

Un­like the state em­ploy­ees charged in the ECI in­dict­ment, Geppi and Spiroff were hired by the Ho­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Ho­gan spokesman Doug Mayer said the depart­ment takes “al­le­ga­tions of mis­con­duct very se­ri­ously.”

“They are in­ves­ti­gated im­me­di­ately,” he said. “If ac­tions need to be taken as a con­se­quence, those ac­tions are taken im­me­di­ately.”

Geppi su­per­vised sev­eral hun­dred work­ers in the in­tel­li­gence, in­ves­ti­ga­tions, cen­tral hir­ing and in­spec­tor gen­eral’s de­part­ments.

Spiroff is a for­mer Bal­ti­more County po­lice cap­tain who served as com­man­der of the Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tions Di­vi­sion.

Moyer said Gary McLhin­ney, the cor­rec­tions depart­ment’s di­rec­tor of pro­fes­sional stan­dards, will over­see the Of­fice of In­ves­tiga­tive Ser­vices in an act­ing ca­pac­ity.

Greg Mar­shall, the cor­rec­tions depart­ment’s deputy di­rec­tor of human re­sources, will serve as act­ing di­rec­tor of in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

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