Ball sen­tenced for mis­con­duct

For­mer Trappe po­lice chief faces pro­ba­tion, com­mu­nity ser vice

Sunday Star - - FRONT PAGE - By CON­NIE CON­NOLLY cconnolly@ches­pub.com

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/

GE­ORGE BALL

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