Leopold Opponent: 'He Should Resign Immediately'
County Executive John Leopold was indicted Friday on multiple charges after more than a year of speculation and investigation into misconduct allegations.
Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold's political opponent in 2010 reacted angrily to charges that the Republican was indicted Friday on criminal misconduct charges that include using police officers to trash her campaign signs during the election.
"It restores my faith in the Democratic process," said Joanna Conti, the Democrat who ran against Leopold in the 2010 election. "It's important that we hold our elected officials accountable for their actions.
"If these allegations are true," she added, "he is not fit to hold office and should resign immediately."
Conti reacted to the information contained in the indictment about some of Leopold's alleged conduct. According to a press release from the Maryland State Prosecutor's office, Leopold is accused of ordering county police officers to drive him to locations throughout the county where he would pick up and discard Conti's campaign signs.
The officers also picked up and deposited campaign contributions while on duty and kept dossiers on Leopold's political opponent, the indictment alleges. In addition, the indictment alleges that officers frequently drove Leopold to parking lots where he would engage in sexual activity with another county employee in a separate vehicle.
"I find it outrageous that he asked trained police officers to wait while he had sex and empty his catheter," she said.
In addition, Conti said it was "pathetic" that Leopold also had his drivers pull over to remove her signs during the campaign.
"He was throwing away the signs," she said, adding that the signs were reportedly thrown in a ravine and the woods.
County Councilman Jamie Benoit (D-4th District), a former attorney, said that he was most alarmed by the fraud charge, which could result in Leopold facing jail time if convicted.
“A fraud charge is really serious business," Benoit said.
Benoit said he was aware of recent rumors of a possible indictment, but said it had not been a major distraction. The council was more distracted, he said, when some of the initial allegations appeared in news reports last year.
"I’m a human being, and I’m distracted by it because you think about it a lot," he said. "And we’re people. I'm going to do my best to not focus on it and help the county do its work and get my bills passed. That’s why we have three branches of government.”
County Councilman Chris Trumbaurer (D-6th District) expressed sadness that the county executive was indicted.
"He is entitled to a fair hearing and due process under the law," said Trumbauer. "However, should these allegations prove to be true, it will be yet another example of someone in power betraying the public's trust. I have very little tolerance for scandal and corruption in public office."
Ray Leone of Edgewater, Anne Arundel County PTA President, said that he had some personal dealings with Leopold.
“The accusations that came out against him and some of the things, I’m pretty sure he did,” said Leone, who owns and operates a toy store in the Westfield Annapolis mall.
Leone said he spoke with people involved in the allegations connected to the parking lot incident. Leopold reportedly asked his security detail to to escort him to the parking lot for “sexual activity with another county employee [in 2010],” the state prosecutor's office announced Friday.
Others, however, aren't so quick to judge Leopold and do not believe the stories of intentional wrongdoing.
"I didn't see anything going on, so I can't really say first-hand that I know what happened," said Stephen Clark Reigle, campaign treasurer for Leopold and president of the District 32 Republican Club.
"I signed the checks and filed my paperwork, and I gave the checks to the people I was supposed to give them to," Reigle said. "From what I know, John believes he'll be [found he's innocent.] ... It will go to trial and all the truth will come out and I guess we'll know in the end."
Leopold asked citizens to reserve judgment against him and said that he was "disheartened" by the charges against him on Friday. In a prepared statement, Leopold said he hadn't seen the allegations so it was inappropriate for him to comment on them.
He added that the questions related to the "scurrilous and salacious accusations" must be resolved through the judicial process.
"In a court of law, all sides have the opportunity to present evidence and argument, as opposed to the grand jury process which can be manipulated," he said in the statement.
Patch editors Maya T. Prabhu, John Wilfong, Jonathan Moynihan and Tim Lemke contributed to this article.