On a winter evening in 2009, a 911 call came in to the police department of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, where the state Capital, Annapolis, is located. “I see some activity going on in the car, and I don’t think it’s proper. . . . It looks like sexual activity to me,” said the male caller, later adding, “I’m not positive, but it looks like there’s naked people in the car.”
An officer was sent to investigate. He found the car in parking lot of a shopping mall. It was a black Chevy Impala, with the license “County Executive 1.” In the back seat was John R. Leopold, the Anne Arundel County Executive.
Though the car was government-issue, no charges were filed. Leopold, a major Republican power broker in the state who served for decades in the Maryland legislature, dismissed accusations of impropriety as “rumor and gossip.” He was reelected in 2010.
That seemed to be the end of the matter, but it wasn’t. The incident in the parking lot led a number of county employees to come forward with a variety of accusations against Leopold, and yesterday he was indicted on multiple counts of official misconduct.
According to the state prosecutor’s office, Leopold used his county security staff to carry out tasks ranging from the intimate to the demeaning.
To facilitate an affair with an employee of the county’s department of parks and recreation, Leopold had his security staff drive him to commercial parking lots as often as two or three times a week to rendezvous with his lover.
Leopold would order his security officers to leave him at the car of the subordinate and to “remain in the same parking lot, but at some distance away.”
Such meetings lasted 45 minutes or longer, and upon returning to his police escorts, Leopold “at times commented to them in graphic language about his sexual encounter.”
To conceal that relationship from another woman, with whom Leopold lived, the indictment alleges that the county executive went even further in abusing his power when he was hospitalized twice in 2010 for back surgery.
Leopold ordered members of his security detail to work 170 hours of overtime guarding his hospital room to make sure the parks employee never entered his room and encountered his live-in partner.
The overtime tab topped $10,000, according to the indictment.
The indictment also describes Leopold having his police escorts chauffeur him to roadside spots to vandalize his opponents’ campaign signs and, after the back surgeries required him to wear a urinary catheter, ordering his security detail and other staffers to periodically empty the bag.
“In more menial chores,” writes the Washington Post’s Aaron Davis, “members of his police detail were required to run personal errands for him, “including but not limited to” doing his personal banking, picking up his newspaper, delivering takeout dinners, and purchasing and delivering personal gifts from Leopold to others, according to the indictment.
“No one answered the door Friday night at Leopold’s home in Pasadena.”