WASHINGTON — The police chief of a small town in Prince George’s County is facing charges for his role in the voiding the current mayor’s parking ticket — and charging documents show that the one of the chief’s own corporals turned him in.
Edmonston Police Chief Stephen Walker is facing charges of altering physical evidence and two counts of malfeasance in office.
Corporal R.J. Ploof filed the allegations with the State’s Attorney against Walker Monday. The charging documents give an inside look into the events that WTOP reported on in April.
Edmonston, Maryland, is a small town near College Park, Hyattsville and Riverdale Park with about 1,400 residents.
According to the charging documents, the ticket was written on Jan. 20, 2014, when an officer’s automatic license plate reader alerted him that a vehicle in the Elizabeth Landing Condominium had a suspended registration. The vehicle belongs to Edmonston Mayor Tracy Gant, a member of the Town Council at the time.
“On February 24, 2014, the listed citation was summarily and without proper legal justification voided by Stephen E. Walker, due to Mrs. Gant’s status as an elected official,” writes Ploof in the complaint.
Ploof writes that Gant continued to keep her car outside through December, even after her registration expired. Such a move would be a violation of both town and county ordinances and could have resulted in a $500 ticket and a tow, however, neither happened to Gant.
On Aug. 8, 2014, Ploof alleges that Walker directed a memo to be sent out to staff to suspend parking enforcement at the Elizabeth Landing Condominium, except for safety hazards, until further notice.
“Again, [Walker’s] actions were directly related to Mrs. Gant’s status. A short time later, following the issuance of the memorandum I did speak directly with [Walker] who acknowledged it’s [sic] purpose. [He] also acknowledged his dismissal of the parking citation,” the complaint reads.
On March 6, 2015, WTOP Ticketbuster first contacted Walker about the ticket at 12:50 p.m.
“On the same day, upon receipt of that inquiry, [Walker] expeditiously and surreptitiously coordinated payment of the citation in an attempt to conceal and alter the physical evidence of misconduct which may have been utilized in a future investigation,” according to the complaint.
Gant paid the $75 parking ticket in cash, but no late fees were assessed even though the ticket was more than one year old. Town Attorney Suellen Fergueson and administrator Rodney Barnes tell WTOP that Gant paid the parking ticket hours before we contacted them.
Fergueson and Barnes would not return requests for comment. An attorney for Walker says his client is completely innocent.
“The filing of these charges is absurd. This appears to be a renegade act from a subordinate officer,” Bob Bonsib tells NBC Washington.
Now the complaint goes to the Office of the State’s Attorney where State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks and her staff will review the evidence.
“Our office is going to screen the case, probably within the next few days to a week, depending on when we can get Corporal Ploof. If Walker is prosecuted, then it would be an ASA in our office who would handle the case. Whether or not it would stay in District Court or be moved up to Circuit Court would not be determined until after the case is screened,” says spokesman John E. Erzen.
View the charging documents: