February 1, 2015 10:23 am ET
Growing burglary scandal inside the Sheriff’s Department may reach all the way to the top.
Photo of Sheriff R. J. Fisher. Photo credit Facebook.
The criminal charges against local developer John Vontran and Baltimore County Deputy Sheriff Walter Weiss, may have close ties to County Sheriff Jay Fisher, according to sources familiar with the case.
The initial investigation occurred back on July 11, 2014, when Mr. Vontran—acting as the property manager—attempted to evict a tenant from her apartment, which was located on the property of the Sea Horse Inn.
The victim, Sandra Elliott, became suspicious when she received a call at work inquiring if she was there. Ms. Elliott then returned home to find Mr. Vontran and Sgt. Weiss moving her belongings out of her apartment.
Ms. Elliott contacted the Baltimore County Police, who responded to the scene. The police investigated, which revealed that Ms. Elliott’s eviction was not scheduled until the end of the month, not to mention that the paperwork presented by Sgt. Weiss was invalid.
Mr. Vontran was charged with fourth-degree burglary and destruction of property, both of which are misdemeanors. Meanwhile, Sgt. Weiss also was charged with fourth-degree burglary.
The case was turned over to the city’s State’s Attorney’s Office for prosecution to avoid any conflict of interest. The first trial date regarding the case was postponed and set for March 26 at 1:30 pm.
Now here is where the situation has become very suspicious.
Normally in the State of Maryland, when a law enforcement officer is charged with a crime, he/she is suspended until the case is adjudicated. In the matter of Sgt. Weiss, this has not been the course of action.
I began to hear rumors that the sergeant is still working in a full duty capacity, despite the charges. In all of my years with the County Police Department, I have never heard of such a thing. In my experience, any officer who faced criminal charges was either suspended or placed on administrative leave.
Since the rumors about Sgt. Weiss reached this investigative journalist, I sent Sheriff Jay Fisher two emails asking for a statement on the situation.
Here are the messages that I sent:
——– Forwarded Message ——–
Subject: Internet Inquiry
Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:07:26 -0500
From: Buzz Beeler <email@example.com>
Sheriff R. J. Fisher
County Courts Building
401 Bosley Avenue
Towson, Maryland 21204
I have to ask this question. With regards to Sgt. Weiss my question is why is he still working active duty (if that is the case) and not on administrative assignment until the case against him and Mr. Vontran has been adjudicated?
This is for the record and a follow-up column will be published this weekend.
Thank you for your time.
Sheriff Fisher, I still have not received a reply from your office. I am assuming this means based on my information that Sgt. Weiss is still full duty.
I do hope you reply to this email prior to my blog on this topic which will include these emails if there is no response.
Get ready to be shocked, but I did not receive a response to either email. Sources also stated that Sgt. Weiss is confident that the case will not go to trial.
Does the sergeant know something we don’t know?
Additionally, sources have told me that this is not the first time that this type of situation has happened, and apparently this conduct has been repeated in the past.
I decided to go around the Sheriff and find out if the rumors are true. To that end, I called the Sheriff’s Office and simply asked if Sgt. Weiss was working. I was told that he was indeed working that day. I did not ask about his duty status, but it appears that Sgt. Weiss’ status has not been affected by the burglary charge.
I asked other deputies about the situation, just to make sure that there is not a different policy within the Sheriff’s Office, but they all stated that, as in the Police Department, a suspension is the usual response to any officer being charged with a crime.
Apparently, somewhere and somehow, the rules have either changed … or they don’t apply to Sgt. Weiss.
I continue to wonder what the sergeant meant by the words he spoke (and my sources were quite adamant about their statements) about the case not moving forward.
Will the truth be told on the witness stand, will we get another plea deal, or will we end up with a witness who does not testify?
Time will tell, but it is worth keeping a watchful eye on this situation. After all, how can you trust a deputy to uphold the law if he himself believes that he is above the law?