February 13, 2016 1:27 pm ET
Plea deal goes awry leaving another victim and a judge left in the wake
Source: Shell(enberger) Shock
Photo credit/let’s deal-plea mistake.com [sic]
In the criminal justice system (which benefits the criminals), the word “deal” has many connotations. Some are based in reality and necessity, while others follow the mantra, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.
Here is how some of that expression is described:
Some people also say that the devil’s in the details when they examine a contract or agreement. Generally, the agreement looks reasonable at first glance, but a closer examination of the terms and small print reveals a problem. (wiseGEEK.org.)
With that little ditty, we come to the crux of this blog on the art of the deal in the criminal justice system … and the victims it often leaves in its wake.
Now, for the sake of argument, we all know the system is overloaded with a caseload that rivals the size of the lava underneath Yellowstone National Park.
With that in mind, the plea deal becomes a necessity in order for a dysfunctional system to continue to function … albeit dysfunctionally.
Figures reveal that the number of real trials that are held is generally a myth. About 3% of all criminal cases filed actually are tried in open court.
Even with that minuscule number, some sort of justice is still possible as long as the prosecuting attorney doesn’t deal with the devil.
Speaking of such deals, they can cause a devil of a lot of problems, as seen in the story I broke some time ago involving the wife of a Baltimore County Police sergeant who was, at the time, assigned to the tactical unit.
Her name is Tina Galloway, and she was charged with one felony count of theft of $100,000. Subsequently, following an investigation, her husband, Sergeant Dan Galloway, was charged with numerous additional felony counts.
Here is the real clinker, which was an exclusive in this blog.
A friend of Mrs. Galloway offered to help her friend, under certain conditions, by lending her the money to pay restitution. Paying restitution would have a large impact on whether or not Mrs. Galloway would face a jail term at her trial.
Yes, you should know by now that a plea deal was struck with Mr. Scott Shellenberger, the Baltimore County States Attorney.
Handling the prosecution of Mrs. Galloway was assistant DA Adam Lippi. Through my investigation of Mr. Lippi, I found out (by interviewing another attorney) that Mr. Lippi had a reputation of dropping serious charges in exchange for defendants pleading guilty to lesser charges and often receiving little or no jail time.
I refer to that as justice denied, but that point in the story is really where this case takes a devil of a turn.
Ms. Jenifer Stagnoli, the friend of Mrs. Galloway who provided the $90,000 loan (with conditions), withdrew her offer after she found some rather suspicious actions on the part of Mrs. Galloway. However, when Ms. Stagnoli went to get her money back from the escrow account, she found that the entire $90,000 was gone.
Where did it go? You guessed it—to pay the restitution and get a “get out of jail free” pass.
Now, in case you are not familiar with the County SA Mr. Shellenberger, these articles may jog your memory just a tad:
And we have this little ditty.
Now back to Ms. Stagnoli and her plight. I have all of the information pertaining to the incident in the form of e-mails and texts; the only things I am missing are smoke signals and the pony express in (now a second victim) attempting to inform Mr. Shellenberger and Mr. Lippi of the situation. Simply put, Mrs. Galloway is not the saint she portrayed herself to be to the judge—who, for now, I will not name because he too was left in the dark and not informed of this swindle by Mrs. Galloway.
I will be more than happy to share the information I have just in case someone thinks I’m making this stuff up.
So, on the day of the trial, standing before the judge was the defendant, Mrs. Galloway, and Mr. Lippi, the prosecutor. Seated right behind them was Ms. Stagnoli and her attorney.
Keep your bucket close by, because the bull that was thrown at the judge about Mrs. Galloway being exemplary in working hard and taking responsibility for her actions by paying restitution was enough to gag anyone who knew the true story with a spoon.
The judge made it known that he was not soft on so-called white collar crime, but—because Mrs. Galloway paid restitution, which the judge felt was seldom done in these types of cases—he felt that she had transitioned into a responsible person who learned her lesson.
For that reason, the judge granted a suspended sentence.
Yes, you read that right; a suspended sentence.
The whole time, Mr. Lippi stood silent knowing that the whole story was far from the truth, and to add insult to injury, at the conclusion of the sentencing phase the judge asked if there was anything to be added, and according to Ms. Stagnoli, Mr. Lippi remained silent.
If it were me, I’m not so sure that I would have been able to keep silent knowing the truth, which would have led to making the judge look rather foolish since Ms. Stagnoli believes the judge had no prior knowledge of what really happened.
With all of this in mind, I sent a very detailed e-mail to Mr. Shellenberger, providing him with copies of the e-mails showing that Ms. Stagnoli attempted to inform both Mr. Shellenberger and Mr. Lippi of the truth.
I specifically stated that, if any of my information was not accurate or was wrong, that it is time for the record to be set straight. I gave them a chance to respond to any inaccuracy or other issues, but they chose not to respond.
So, in the end, we have what appears to be, at least to me, two more victims added to the initial crime for the sake of another notch on the guilty bar. One was Ms. Stagnoli and the other was the judge, who—without the proper knowledge of the case—was made to look like a (and I’m searching for a kinder and gentler way of writing this, but the only word I can think of is, sadly) fool.
In another chapter for this story, Ms. Stagnoli sent a letter to the judge describing the entire incident, and her attorney is planning legal action against Mrs. Galloway and Mrs. Galloway’s attorney.
Stay tuned for more “As the Court Churns,” because Sergeant Galloway, who is suspended without pay, will have his trial come up in March.
Let’s hope that we can avoid another “shocking” development.
As always, I leave you with this thought: