SOUTHERN MARYLAND POLICE BEAT / One year’s probation in plea bargain of DUI arrest of St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Officer Gogul

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St. Mary's Sheriff Correctional Officer Maurice Gogul-wrecked-police-car-while-DWI-in-Easton-Md.-101416

St. Mary’s Sheriff Correctional Officer Maurice Gogul-wrecked-police-car-while-DWI-in-Easton-Md.-101416

Correctional-Officer-Maurice-Gogul

Correctional-Officer-Maurice-Gogul

UPDATE: A plea bargain on March 6, 2017, in Talbot County Circuit Court resulted in one year of probation for Maurice Gogul.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND POLICE BEAT / Training for funeral escort turned into DUI arrest of St. Mary’s Sheriff’s correctional officer

Correctional Officer that St. Mary’s Sheriff Cameron Sent to Training for Funeral Honor Guards Wrecked Police Vehicle in DUI Crash – Came Close to His Own Funeral

DUI Correctional Officer’s passenger was a Deputy – friends don’t let friends drive drunk, but this Deputy did – and so far, now is on paid administrative leave

UPDATE:

SHERIFF TIM CAMERON

St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department

In regards to the DUI arrest of CO Maurice Gogul and wreck of the police cruiser he was operating on Rt. 50 in Easton Md. on Oct. 14, 2016:

  1. Is there an internal investigation underway and, if so, has CO Gogul been put on administrative leave with or without pay?
  2. Has Cpl. Matthew Rogers been placed on administrative leave, with or without pay, for failing to stop CO Gogul from operating an agency vehicle while intoxicated? Does he face possible criminal charges?

In regards to Deputy Elizabeth O’Connor:

  1. What is the amount of the proposed settlement in the discrimination case filed by Deputy Elizabeth O’Connor?
  2. Are you aware that her husband, Commissioner O’Connor is a member of the Board of Trustees of LGIT?

RESPONSE FROM SHERIFF CAMERON:

Listed are responses to your inquiries.

  1. There is an administrative investigation underway, Correctional Officer Gogul and Corporal Rogers have been suspended with pay consistent with State Law specifically the Law Enforcement/Correctional Officer’s Bill of Rights. (Editor’s Note: Cpl. Rogers wasn’t suspended until after the publication of this article)
  2. Once the administrative investigation is complete the case will be reviewed with the Talbot County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Regarding Corporal O’Connor

  1. To our knowledge, there is no agreement of any sort.
  2. No.

Sheriff Cameron made the following statement on Oct. 17, 2016: “Public trust is based on a relationship that is reciprocal in nature, fostered by officers who demonstrate the highest ethical standards while being supported by an engaged community. In essence, the goal is to achieve partnerships that promote cooperation between the police and community as they work together towards a shared vision.”

News Analysis & Commentary

By Ken Rossignol

THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY

LEONARDTOWN, MD. — St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Correctional Officer Maurice Lee Gogul, of Lusby, was arrested on Oct. 14, 2016, at 4:11 am by Easton Police Officer Lynch on charges of DUI while impaired by alcohol, driving under the influence and negligent, careless and imprudent driving.

The vehicle operated by CO Gogul was a 2009 Ford Crown Victoria with license plate 5ESG44. The vehicle was wrecked substantially and was towed back to the vehicle maintenance facility operated by St. Mary’s County located on St. Andrew’s Church Road in California, Md.  CO Gogul faces a mandatory appearance in Talbot County District Court for the four charges levied against him.

The crash took place after CO Gogul dropped off a St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Corporal at a hotel while he was on the way to buy cigarettes when he wrecked in front of the Dunkin Donuts on Rt. 50 in Easton. While the Dunkin Donuts in St. Mary’s County are the scene of ‘Cops on the Rooftop’ each year, there was no information in the court documents as to whether the presence of the Dunkin Donuts played any role in the DUI crash and arrest.

Why was Correctional Officer Gogul in Easton, Maryland driving a St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s unmarked police cruiser?  He was learning how to properly carry a casket so he could improve his skills as a member of the Sheriff’s Honor Guard. Sheriff Cameron designates funds in his budget for the Honor Guard and Motorcycle units which are primarily deployed for funerals of retired members of the agency or to represent the Sheriff’s Department in parades.

Sheriff-Cameron-hid-the-wrecked-police-car-behind-this-collection-of-crashed-cruisers-at-the-vehicle-maintenance-facility-in-California-Md.-THE-CHESAPEAKE-TODAY-photo.

Sheriff-Cameron-hid-the-wrecked-police-car-behind-this-collection-of-crashed-cruisers-at-the-vehicle-maintenance-facility-in-California-Md.-THE-CHESAPEAKE-TODAY-photo.

CO Gogul was with another St. Mary’s Sheriff’s employee, a Corporal with the Patrol Division after a day of training when the pair began to enjoy the night life of Easton, a sleepy town in Talbot County. The Easton Police Department began holding seminars for law officers from around the region to train Honor Guards. The program is held at the Marine Engineers Benevolent Association training center located near Easton at St. Michael’s, Md.

St.-Marys-Sheriff-Honor-Guard-at-FOP-Lodge-7-in-Great-Mills-Md

St.-Marys-Sheriff-Honor-Guard-at-FOP-Lodge-7-in-Great-Mills-Md

.  “Training will be hands-on, with the group and/or one on one instruction.  Topics include Color/Flag Teams, Drill Teams, Flag folding/protocols, Casket Guards, Burial Teams and Rifle Volleys.  A mock funeral will follow on day 3,” is the description of the annual training event by the Easton Police Department, which stands ready to arrest those participants who decided to drive while intoxicated in their town. “Class size is limited to 50 persons.  The cost for the training is $150 per person.  Departments sending 6 or more people get 1 free seat.  Lunch is provided each day as well as the Thursday night chicken bbq/crab fest.  The giveaway item is also included to each registered person.”

The chicken BBQ and crab fest may have been accompanied by copious amounts of beer, according to those familiar with that night of the training.

A law enforcement officer who failed to stop an intoxicated person from operating a motor vehicle can be charged with a criminal offense as well as face internal affairs investigations and possible agency charges.

Easton-Police-Honor-Guard

Easton-Police-Honor-Guard

Three St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Deputies have been charged with DUI and either received demotions or were terminated.

That a law enforcement officer is arrested for DUI is not that rare, though it should be, as St. Mary’s Deputy David Goff was charged with DUI and assault on May 19, 2008, and terminated after being found guilty in District Court. Dep. David Goff then went back to his prior employment, as an undertaker in a Leonardtown funeral home. In a plea deal with St. Mary’s States Attorney Richard Fritz, Goff was given Probation Before Judgment and two days in jail.  Goff was represented by Leonardtown DUI attorney Kevin J. McDevitt.  Spotsylvania County Virginia Sheriff Roger L. Harris reported that on Aug. 8, 2015, “Detective Ridenour charged David Goff, 40, with Felony Abduction and Felony Aggravated Sexual Battery in the 10000 block of Hebron Church Road. The offense took place on June 19, 2015.”

When What Happens in Vegas Doesn’t Stay in Vegas

Training taking place at out of town resorts and other destinations is problematic for the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department.

The K-9 search teams of St. Mary's Sheriff Tim Cameron went to Canada to training instead of nearby airports in Baltimore, Richmond or Washington.

The K-9 search teams of St. Mary’s Sheriff Tim Cameron went to Canada to training instead of nearby airports in Baltimore, Richmond or Washington.

Sheriff Tim Cameron reported in a recent press release how he sent deputies and their K-9 dogs to Montreal, Canada earlier this year for special training to show dogs how to sniff out explosives on airplanes. Captain Steven Hall was quoted in the statement as praising Sheriff Cameron for his wisdom and foresight in providing the K9 teams this valuable and unique training. Hall didn’t mention the cost or the decision to avoid similar training at a closer location.

 

Maybe St. Mary's County could haul these empty seats to Reagan National Airport where seats are always in short supply. No paying passenger on a scheduled flight has ever spilled their coffee on these seats. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

Maybe St. Mary’s County could haul these empty seats to Reagan National Airport where seats are always in short supply. No paying passenger on a scheduled flight has ever spilled their coffee on these seats. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

St. Mary’s County has yet to have a scheduled flight in over 16 years since the empty St. Mary’s Regional Airport Terminal was built at the cost of over $2 million. The same training that the St. Mary’s K9 teams received in Montreal is available from the Customs & Border Protection at their Front Royal, Virginia training center and in Anne Arundel County. Cameron told ABC 7 News that the training was valuable for K9 dogs to use in searching buildings. The cost to send the deputies and K9 dogs to Montreal was borne by the taxpayers as part of the Sheriff’s budget, not from a federal grant.

St. Mary's Commissioner John O'Conner is interviewed by ABC 7 investigative reporter Chris Papst . Commissioner O'Conner told ABC 7 that he and the other commissioners don't control the spending of Sheriff Cameron. The rest of the story, is that Commissioner O'Conner is an outspoken critic of the conduct of the Sheriff''s Department and has line by line scrutiny of the Sheriff's annual budget. O'Connor has now finished that review of the Sheriff's spending, including out of county travel items, in two budgets since taking office in 2014. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY

St. Mary’s Commissioner John O’Conner is interviewed by ABC 7 investigative reporter Chris Papst . Commissioner O’Conner told ABC 7 that he and the other commissioners don’t control the spending of Sheriff Cameron. The rest of the story is that Commissioner O’Conner is an outspoken critic of the conduct of the Sheriff’s Department and has line by line scrutiny of the Sheriff’s annual budget. O’Connor has now finished that review of the Sheriff’s spending, including out of county travel items, in two budgets since taking office in 2014. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY

A training session held each year for correctional officers in Ocean City in 2014, resulted in a barroom scene in which the St. Mary’s County Jail Warden, Capt. Michael Merican reportedly made a remark to Correctional Officer Kelly M. Lowther who promptly smacked Merican.

Capt. Merican-at-Correctional-Officer's beach-blast, paid for by taxpayers.-2014

Capt. Merican-at-Correctional-Officer’s beach-blast, paid for by taxpayers.-2014

When Merican sobered up the next morning, report sources, he realized that the barroom full of jail guards and other law enforcement officers would be spreading the news so he filed a complaint against Lowther.

Lowther was offered a deal which involved discipline for smacking Merican, a jab he may have earned according to women familiar with the circumstances.  

Correctional Officer Kelly M. Lowther’s salary was $55,640 before being terminated for clobbering Capt. Merican in a bar. No criminal charges were filed in Worcester County District Court against Lowther by Merican, thereby relieving him of having to testify in open court that he was hit by a girl in a bar. However, Captain Merican avenged his assailant’s punch, which may have been caused by his boorish behavior, by making sure department charges were brought against her and resulting in her losing her job.

No criminal charges were filed in Worcester County District Court against Lowther by Merican, thereby relieving him of having to testify in open court that he was hit by a girl in a bar.

An appeal of a St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Trial Board to the Circuit Court of St. Mary’s County was held and resulted in an order on Aug. 31, 2015.

 

St. Mary's Sheriff Tim Cameron with Captain Michael Merican, center at Budget Hearing.

St. Mary’s Sheriff Tim Cameron with Captain Michael Merican, center, at Budget Hearing.

As usual, the taxpayer-supported LGIT, an insurance company that insures many Maryland county, municipal and state agencies, provided legal counsel through the firm of Karpinski, Colares & Karp. Steven E. Sunday, of Upper Marlboro, represented Lowther. LGIT is funded by premiums charged to St. Mary’s County and other members of the insurance pool. The premiums are paid by tax dollars.

An appeal of the decision of the court was made to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. In case No. 01774/15, Kelly M. Lowther vs. St. Mary’s County Office of the Sheriff Trial Board and is set to be heard by the State’s second highest court on Nov. 1, 2016.

At the peripheral of Correctional Officer Lowther’s case is the dual system of treatment of female employees of the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Office from that handed out to members of the Good Old Boys Club, which Sheriff Cameron has maintained since being elected in 2006.

While Cameron came into office projecting a squeaky clean image of modernizing the Sheriff’s Department, he instead began to protect his senior staff members who have been involved in many scandals.

Captain-Steve-Hall-Commander-of-St.-Marys-Sheriffs-SWAT-Team-and-Special-Operations.

Captain-Steve-Hall-Commander-of-St.-Marys-Sheriffs-SWAT-Team-and-Special-Operations.

From the famous Loot Scandal where evidence was stolen from the property held which had been seized from a drug dealer in a raid to the SWAT team firing live rounds into a home in Wildewood as they practiced on a nearby shooting range on a farm, to the shooting death of a veteran in a standoff in Hollywood, Cameron’s image has steadily diminished.

Sheriff Cameron consistently preaches ‘transparency’ and ethics but always ducks behind “personnel” as the reason he refused to provide accountability to the public for his agency’s employees and actions of commanders.

In the shooting incident, Cameron suspended Capt. Steven Hall for two weeks while he conducted an investigation and then, without public comment, reinstated him to his post as commander of the Special Operations Division.

Cameron released a statement after the shooting incident in the Dahlia Park section of Wildewood, in which live rounds came within several feet of a child in the bedroom of a residence, saying he was “mortified” and promised to take action. Cameron never stated what the action he took involved, if he took any “action.”

“I am mortified that there is even potential for one of our training rounds causing damage or injury. We have suspended use of all private property for firearms training and will evaluate all training sites for the safety of users and surrounding residents.” – Sheriff Tim Cameron

 

“As we take steps to determine if rounds that penetrated homes in the Dahlia Park community came from Sheriff’s Office weapons, I want to assure the public that I am committed to continuing to work with the victim families to keep them informed and aid in their recovery from the shattered sense of safety and security in their home. I am mortified that there is even potential for one of our training rounds causing damage or injury. We have suspended use of all private property for firearms training and will evaluate all training sites for the safety of users and surrounding residents. Finally, we will continue to investigate and determine the origin of the rounds that caused the damage and provide that information to the public,” said Sheriff Cameron.

While it is comforting that Sheriff Cameron promised that future sites for firearms training would be “evaluated” for safety, it is hard to believe that the farm next to Wildewood would have ever been considered “safe” for automatic weapons discharge.

With a big disparity between the treatment of female and male deputies, protection for the old boy commanders and inept decisions by those commanders, the departure of younger deputies continues to hemorrhage the Sheriff’s Department ranks. Every year since Cameron came into office in 2006, a constant refrain of needing higher pay to compete with other agencies appears in the budget hearing process. Cameron’s use of a “Citizen’s Academy” to act as a political arm of his agency continues to provide a chorus of “citizen” voices to bring pressure on the St. Mary’s Commissioners to approve higher annual budgets, without accountability.

St. Mary's Assistant Sheriff John Horne chewed out two county commissioners for daring to criticize the agency budget proposal.

St. Mary’s Assistant Sheriff John Horne chewed out two county commissioners for daring to criticize the agency budget proposal.

The 2016 Budget Work Session with the St. Mary’s County Commissioners was heated when Assistant Sheriff Major John Horne told Commissioners Mike Hewitt (R. – Hollywood, Leonardtown) and John O’Conner (R. Mechanicsville) that their questioning of spending by the Sheriff was “ridiculous” and they were attempting to “micromanage” the Sheriff’s Department. Commissioner O’Connor filed a complaint about Horne’s outbursts at the meeting, and Sheriff Cameron pivoted, sending the complaint to the Montgomery County Sheriff to investigate.

Commissioner O’Connor represents himself in his biography on the Local Government Insurance Trust (LGIT) Board of Trustees as well as to reporters as a “retired police Lieutenant.” O’Connor was terminated by the Prince Georges County Police Department following a DUI arrest with damage to his vehicle, according to a statement made in an interview in 2014.

Commissioner O’Connor described his career as a police officer in an article in PoliceOne:

“So I found a way to fix this without even trying to look. It was easy… just a quick stop at a party, surround myself with other cops, have a few drinks and on to the next day and the next shift. Soon, I found it hard to sit at home. No sirens, no buddies, just me and my thoughts. That was an easy fix I would only have one drink enough to relax. After a short time, I found myself looking at the bottom of an empty bottle wondering how it got that way.

Ah, hell, who cares — I mean, really, it was just one bottle. I said if the signs are there my leaders will see it and say something. I’m good! This is what we do! Little did I know I was hiding it very well.

It was Police Week, and I was in Washington DC, out with a group of fellow officers. We hit the streets, visit the memorial, hit the bars, and indulged in the… well, I wish I could remember the rest in the middle. Most of it is blank, but what I do remember is leaving them and ending up at a Metro station where I left my cruiser. I don’t remember hitting the sidewalk or flattening the tires to even out the damage, but what I do remember is the supervisor showing up.

“Oh s***, what did I do? This isn’t me.”

I had hit bottom, and I felt the fall. It is a gut wrenching feeling, my mind is in disarray, and the emotional pain is excruciating.

The fall from grace is not a pleasant one. It had all caught up with me. The trip to IAD and then the drive home as a passenger felt like an eternity. My life was over “what am I going to do now?” I sat there on the pavement in ruins, and all I could do is fall to my knees.

“What did I do? Someone, please help me.”

Then the phone rang. It was my father. A call I did not want to answer, as I had to reveal to him what had happened. That call would be the call I needed and not the one I wanted.

“You’ve got a problem son, and you need to get some [bleeping] help.”

I did seek help, but this was a living hell I was in. The shame of dishonoring all that I and other brave men and woman stood for. I could not look anyone in the eyes. I still could not believe there was a God.

Screw that, not with everything I saw, and of course He let this happen to me. What a fool I was.

I ended up at a friend’s uncle’s house on Thanksgiving. He didn’t want me to be alone he said to me. It was obvious I was in pain and suffering. Everyone saw it in my eyes — I know they did. I made it through most of the night with my head down and not a soul bothering me about it until his uncle sat down next to me looked over and placed his hand on my shoulder, “You know God isn’t mad at you, why don’t you come to church this Sunday.”

He got up and left.

I realized he was the Pastor of the church.

I did, and I found my faith again. It helped in not just my recovery from Alcoholism, but the unseen terrors of war the four letters that most cops cringe at PTSD. I soon found myself in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and a Police and Combat Veteran PTSD expert.

I asked myself, “Will I ever be a cop again?”

I mean, this is my calling. I loved helping people, getting the bad guy, and just the job all the way around. It seemed impossible. Who would want me? I’m not perfect. Look at this black eye.

The traffic tickets were dropped in court my record was expunged. Why could they not see past all of this? It wasn’t me I am not that person I never really was.

I thought you have to be perfect to be a cop. I, of course, got denied at every turn but I would not stop until I could redeem myself. I needed to give back. I had taken so much. I found just the place — or I should say, this agency found me.

It was a small one-officer agency. They could not afford to pay another officer but needed one. They had just started a reserve program, so I took the job. For a year, I worked 30 plus hours a week as a volunteer police officer for this municipal agency working hard and giving back. I faced constant ridicule from former colleagues, and there was no doubt the whispers were there. It made it tough, but I had made my amends I needed to focus on what was important.

This was the most rewarding police job I ever had.

St. Mary's Commissioner John O'Connor. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

St. Mary’s Commissioner John O’Connor at Linda’s Cafe in Lexington Park, Md.  THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

 

For Commissioner O’Connor to characterize himself as a “retired Lieutenant” is a real stretch. He never served long enough at Prince Georges County, before his termination, to earn a retirement and may have picked up the rank designation in litigation as part of the separation from the “municipal agency.”

None of that can be construed as leaving O’Connor unable to criticize or question the Sheriff’s Department budget, as he was elected by the voters of St. Mary’s County to do exactly that, not to give a rubber stamp to whatever the Prima Donna Sheriff’s Major Horne or Cameron wants to have or else they will throw a tantrum.

None of that can be construed as leaving O’Connor unable to criticize or question the Sheriff’s Department budget, as he was elected by the voters of St. Mary’s County to do exactly that, not to give a rubber stamp to whatever the Prima Donna Sheriff’s Major Horne or Cameron wants to have or else they will throw a tantrum.

With Commissioners Randy Guy and Todd Morgan willing to give away the store, or the county treasury, the public has little to expect from the St. Mary’s Board of Commissioners when it comes to a realistic budget.  Given the level of tomfoolery in the Sheriff’s Department, Commissioners Hewitt and O’Connor should examine every detail of the Sheriff’s budget.

In Commissioner O’Connor’s article which is posted online, he indicates that he suffers from PTSD, yet he has appeared at Commissioner’s meetings armed with a gun, which may even the odds, as the short-tempered Asst. Sheriff Major Horne is armed as well.

A Public Information Request to the Maryland State Police for details of how Commissioner O’Connor was able to obtain a gun permit, in that he wasn’t a police officer for five years, as required, was denied to THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY. The State Police Captain in charge of the firearms division at the time O’Connor was permitted for a gun, Jack McCauley, is now retired and a guest at an upcoming fundraiser for O’Conner.

A Public Information Request to the Maryland State Police for details of how Commissioner O’Connor was able to obtain a gun permit, in that he wasn’t a police officer for five years, as required, was denied to THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY. The State Police Captain in charge of the firearms division at the time O’Conner was permitted for a gun, Jack McCauley, is now retired and a featured guest at an upcoming fundraiser for O’Conner.

Featured Guest:
Maryland State Police Captain Jack McCauley, Retired. Captain McCauley is an expert in our state’s firearms laws, is an avid supporter of the Second Amendment, and was the commanding officer of the Maryland State Police Licensing Division.

The price of Sheriff Cameron continuing to operate the Sheriff’s Department as a private club without any senior black or female officers is expensive for the taxpayers. With a cost more than $150,000 for hiring, training and outfitting a new deputy, only to see them leave within two years of being hired, is borne by the taxpayers.

In 2015, at least six deputies left St. Mary’s for jobs in other agencies in Maryland.

Sheriff Cameron reported in 2012 that he had terminated two dozen employees since taking office. Most of the deputies hired under the prior administration of Sheriff David Zylak were told to leave or face termination, according to one former county official.

St. Mary's Sheriff Tim Cameron, top right, with his Lexington Park Hobos & Hookers Patrol. Sgt. Clay Safford, the fleet-footed flatfoot who caputured one of the fleeing drug dealers is shown at top left. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

St. Mary’s Sheriff Tim Cameron, top right, with his Lexington Park Hobos & Hookers Patrol. Sgt. Clay Safford, the fleet-footed flatfoot who caputured one of the fleeing drug dealers is shown at top left. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

Sheriff Cameron provided this statement in response to a letter from THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY on Feb. 5, 2014:

“You had also raised a question regarding the number of deputies/employees of the Office of Sheriff that have been terminated during my tenure. As noted above, because personnel matters are privileged under State law, I cannot provide you with names and the particulars which served as the basis for termination. I can tell you that there are approximately two hundred seventy-five (275) employees (deputies, correctional officers, and civilian staff) within the Office of Sheriff. Since taking office, I have terminated twenty-four (24) employees for a variety of reasons.”

Sheriff-Tim-Cameron-right-and-PIO-Cindy-Allen-center-at-murder-scene.

Sheriff-Tim-Cameron-right-and-PIO-Cindy-Allen-center-at-murder-scene.

As soon as deputies learn that the path for advancement is paved with favors, many seek jobs with other agencies in Maryland or the federal government.

One such loss of an experienced deputy was the resignation of Sgt. Cindy Allen, who served as the Public Information Officer for the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department. Allen left for a position with the Amtrak Police where she is now an Inspector with the agency’s Internal Affairs. She formerly served as an Amtrak Captain in Strategic Planning & Research where she served as the accreditation manager for CALEA, the same role she performed for the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department from 2004 to 2007, winning CALEA recognition for the agency for the first time in history.

Cameron promoted Allen to the agency PIO role where she served until she left in 2013. Allen launched most of the agency’s public information network of social media, blogs, websites, and outreach with the community. With all the external change she accomplished, there was not a path for promotion or advancement in the ranks.

Allen wisely abandoned any hopes of achieving higher ranks in the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department. Her education includes a Master’s of Science from Johns Hopkins University in Police Executive Leadership. Allen also earned a BS in Management and has a second Masters in Homeland Security from the Naval Postgraduate School pending in 2017.

Captain Dan Alioto at scene of a DUI arrest in Great Mills, Md.

Captain Dan Alioto at scene of a DUI arrest in Great Mills, Md.

ALL COMMAND OFFICERS OF SHERIFF CAMERON ARE WHITE MALES

Following the resignation of Brian Eley, a retired Charles County Sheriff’s Officer who Cameron hired in order to have a black administrator and blend the very Caucasian tone of the agency; Cameron promoted Pam McKay to the post of Administration commander. McKay’s salary in 2014 was $53,123 while Eley had been paid $99,756 plus given the use of a police car with fuel privileges to drive back and forth to his home in Virginia. McKay has never been a certified police officer in St. Mary’s County, but only a civilian employee. She is a retired PG County Maryland police officer. 

In contrast, Captain Michael Merican, the commanding officer that Sheriff Cameron promoted to the rank of Captain and put in charge of the St. Mary’s Detention Center as the Warden provides no information on his LinkedIn profile as to any education he may or may not have earned.

Another of Sheriff Cameron’s top commanders, Terry Black, Commander of the Patrol Division who has also headed up Criminal Investigations, notes that he has served since December of 1990 in the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department, but like Merican, does not list any type of police education or higher education that would make his appointment to his command position indicate that his promotion was based on merit instead of being part of the Good Old Boys Club.

Captain Steven Hall also chooses to not share any educational achievements on his LinkedIn profile that may have been taken into consideration by Sheriff Cameron to appoint Hall as Commander of the Special Operations Division – other than membership in the Sheriff’s Good Old Boys Club.

The Assistant Sheriff, Major John Horne, doesn’t reveal on his LinkedIn profile what his educational qualifications for his post might be other than his appointment by Sheriff Cameron, who has the authority to designate anyone he wishes to the post. Horne attended the FBI National training at Quantico.

Sheriff Cameron, who himself has a Master’s Degree in Police Leadership from Johns Hopkins, has a unique insight on the value of advanced education for a police administrator. Cameron attended the Hopkins program while employed at the Sheriff’s Department and when the director of the 911 center before being elected Sheriff in 2006.

In contrast to Command Officers Hall, Black & Merican, Captain Daniel Alioto, Commander of the Vice and Narcotics Division lists more than three dozen specialized training programs including the FBI National Academy as well as a Master’s Degree in Management from Johns Hopkins and undergraduate degrees from Mountain State University.

Captain Edward Willenborg was promoted to the rank of Captain by Cameron and posted to the post of Commander of the Criminal Investigations Division. Willenborg earned a degree in business management from the University of Maryland in 1990.

The following salaries of St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Commanders were listed in a Public Information Act release for 2013-2014 to THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY, thus current salaries are higher:  

Capt. Edward Willenborg $108,521

Capt. Steven Hall $98,383

Maj. John Horne $116,570

Capt. Daniel Alioto $102,481

Capt. Michael Merican $107,515

Capt. Terry Black $105,476

One of the most egregious acts that Cameron has presided over was allowing the public to believe that Lt. Julie Yingling had falsified overtime records. When asked directly if Yingling had done so, Cameron did not deny that was the case that was under investigation but stated that she was on paid administrative leave.

 Far from stealing from the taxpayers as one county commissioner alleged and Sheriff Cameron failed to provide a truthful answer, she instead had been charged with insubordination when ordered to work 20-hour days. 

This question was posed to Cameron: “When did the acts of allegedly falsifying pay and overtime records take place and was she really at home when she reported she was working overtime?”

Instead of denying the allegations, Sheriff Cameron provided this statement about Lt. Yingling:

“With that said, the filing of criminal charges is a matter of public record, and I can tell you that no criminal charges have been filed. An internal investigation remains ongoing, and the appropriate course of action will be determined and taken upon the completion of that investigation.”

As a result of a Public Information Act Request for salary and overtime records of the agency, an examination of the payroll records revealed that Yingling had no overtime during the time period. Sheriff Cameron could have provided that information but chose not to do so.

Sheriff Cameron’s treatment of women in his agency also resulted in a recent approval by the EEOC for a lawsuit to proceed alleging discrimination against Deputy Elizabeth O’Connor.  The settlement in the case of O’Connor, if upheld by a Maryland Appeals Court, will be made by the Local Government Insurance Trust (LGIT). 

O’Connor’s husband, St. Mary’s County Commissioner John O’Conner is a member of the Board of Trustees of LGIT. When issues pertaining to pay come to the St. Mary’s Board, O’Connor has recused himself.

Other EEOC complaints have been successful in regards to the Sheriff’s Department treatment of women and minorities. An undisclosed settlement was reached in the Federal Civil Rights lawsuit involving four black deputies in 1993.  Black deputies generally leave the St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department in less than 3 years to seek employment elsewhere. There are few exceptions.

When Sheriff Richard Voorhaar, States Attorney Richard Fritz and six deputies were brought into Federal Court for a 1984 Civil Rights Act violation as a result of the gang of lawmen clearing out newsstands of all available copies of ST. MARY’S TODAY on Election Day in 1998, depriving voters of reading the newspaper before voting, a settlement of $450,000 was paid to the publisher (Rossignol v Voorhaar) after the publisher won in the United States Court of Appeals Fourth Circuit and a summary judgement in the U. S. District Court;  the defendant’s appeal to the Supreme Court was denied. Captains Willenborg and Merican were among the defendants in the case.

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