Ball sentenced for misconduct
Former Trappe police chief faces probation, community ser vice
EASTON — Former Trappe Police Chief George Ball was found guilty of misconduct in office by retired Judge Paul M. Bowman on Friday, Oct. 20, at the Talbot County Circuit Court in Easton.
Ball, 61, pleaded guilty to the first count, a misdemeanor charge, and apologized to the court. With the guilty plea, Ball gave up his right to a trial.
He was sentenced to two years of supervised probation. He also must complete 150 hours of community service within six months, and pay court costs and supervision fees.
Ball’s attorney, Shaun Owens of Schlachman, Belsky & Weiner in Upper Marlboro, asked that probation be unsupervised, all costs and fees be waived because Ball had been unemployed several months, and that the standard conditions regarding firearms be waived because of Ball was “an avid hunter” with no previous infractions.
“There are no allegations of a violent nature or that he’s unstable,” Owens said.
“I’m going to stick to the standard provisions of probation,” Bowman said. “Mr. Owens, make sure Mr. Ball reports to parole and probation today, so we can get started on the right foot.”
“I understand this is a traumatic thing,” Bowman told Ball. “You’ve had a distinguished law career, and this type of offense has tarnished that reputation.”
Accompanying Ball were his wife and longtime friend and former Natural Resources law enforcement colleague, Centreville Police Chief Charlie Rhodes.
Ball was indicted by a grand jury on misconduct in office charges. The charges were filed Tuesday,
Aug. 1, in Talbot County Circuit Court.
Ball was charged with two counts of misconduct in office. One of the offenses is alleged to have occurred between Aug. 1, 2016, and May 23, 2017, and another is alleged to have occurred around Sept. 1, 2015. The state recommended a suspended sentence for the second count.
According to the Office of the State Prosecutor, the first charge alleges Ball improperly seized and kept a handgun, reportedly stolen, from the apartment of a female acquaintance, “further failing to properly process or report same as evidence or recovered property, for the personal benefit” of the acquaintance.
The Office of the State Prosecutor also said Ball allegedly failed to pursue a legitimate investigation of a reported theft of jewelry for the personal benefit of the same acquaintance.
“Police officers take an oath to uphold the law without prejudice or partiality,” State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt said. “Nobody is above the law, and any violation of that oath is a betrayal of the public trust and cannot be tolerated.”
Ball was Trappe’s only police officer and chief. He was suspended June 29 after a complaint was filed against him and while he was being investigated by a Mar yland State Police inquiry board.
State police and deputies from the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office have been keeping watch over the town while it has no police force. Meanwhile, town officials have kept quiet about the allegations against Ball, leaking few details as to why he was being investigated.
Trappe Town Administrator Erin Braband said Ball has retired officially from the Town of Trappe and Trappe Police Department.
“At this time the Talbot County Sheriff’s Department and the Maryland State Police will continue to handle all calls for service in the Town of Trappe,” Braband wrote in an email. “As for the future of the Trappe Police Department, any decisions that will be made by the Trappe Town Council will be done as part of a public process.”
After more than 20 years without a town police force, Ball was hired in 2006 when Lakeside at Trappe developer Rocks Engineering agreed to fund the Trappe Police Department.
Anticipating the building of hundreds of new homes and the accompanying rise in population, the developer agreed to establish key town positions. It also paid for the town to have a planner.
While the development has been on hold for years, the company continues to pay for the planner, and the police chief’s salary, expenses and patrol car.
The state prosecutor’s statement of facts in support of the guilty plea can be found at the following website, http://osp. mar yland.gov/2017/10/20/october-20-2017-statement-of-facts-forgeorge-n-ball/