Leopold Resigns, Acknowledges 'Serious Errors in Judgment'
The Anne Arundel County Council no longer needs to vote on the removal of John Leopold from office after a judge found him guilty this week of two counts of misconduct.
UPDATE (3:20 p.m.)—John Leopold resigned as Anne Arundel County Executive on Friday, after a judge found him guilty earlier this week on two counts of misconduct.
The Pasadena Republican said in a resignation letter that he was stepping down "with great sadness and regret," but that it was a necessary to allow the county to get back to business.
"It was a compelling and humbling experience for me to sit through two weeks of the trial and listen intently to the words expressed by the court," Leopold wrote. "I acknowledge the serious errors in judgment that I made and do not want these errors in judgment to further distract the County from its ability to move forward in a positive way."
The resignation means the county council will no longer need to vote on his removal, though the guilty verdict did come with an automatic suspension from office. Leopold previously appointed the county's Chief Administrative Officer John Hammond to take his place on an interim basis.
A vote by the council regarding Leopold's removal had been scheduled for Monday evening.
Leopold is scheduled to be sentenced on March 14. State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt told the Baltimore Sun that the resignation would have no impact on his sentencing recommendation and that it was not part of deal to receive a lesser sentence.
The council is expected to next take up the issue of appointing a replacement.
On Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Dennis M. Sweeney found Leopold guilty of two counts of misconduct following a trial that featured lurid details about his use of security detail and treatment of staff. He was found guilty of misconduct on one charge relating to his use of a secretary and other staff to empty his catheter bag into a coffee can following back surgery.
He was also found guilty of improperly using his security detail to perform work on his re-election campaign in 2010.
"I think it was the right thing to do and it just puts us further down the road towards getting his replacement and putting this all behind us," said Councilman Jamie Benoit (D-District 4), who had planned to vote for Leopold's removal.
County Council Chairman Jerry Walker (R-District 7) agreed.
"He did the right thing," he said.
Councilman John Grasso (R–District 2) said he knew Leopold would step down and supports his decision, but chalked the former county executive's actions up to a lapse in judgement.
"He's a human being—he makes mistakes like most men do," Grasso told Patch. "But if you get past all of the drama, and you look at what he has done as county executive, he has done a great job."
Grasso said he was opposed to simply ousting Leopold when the council was scheduled to meet on Monday, and preferred to wait until his sentencing next month.
"Evidently, John got himself into some things that weren't quite legal," he said. "What my colleagues wanted to do is put a resolution in that was illegal too."
The council last year updated the county charter to clarify that Leopold would be immediately suspended and could be removed from office following a guilty verdict.
What's less clear is the issue of Leopold's pension. The charter specifies that a county executive may be ineligible to receive post-employment benefits if he or she is removed from office, but does not indicate whether he or she would retain benefits if he or she resigned.