In the annals of Maryland political scandals, the saga of John R. Leopold ranks as one of the most salacious and absurd.
The Anne Arundel county executive, who is scheduled to go on trial Wednesday on charges of misconduct and misappropriating county funds, isn’t just accused of having his security detail ferry him to and from parking lot assignations with his mistress. Prosecutors say the Republican leader of Maryland’s fourth-largest county also had protection officers accompany him on a pre-dawn assault on an opponent’s campaign signs, compile dossiers on rivals and empty a urine bag after back surgery required him to use a catheter.
If convicted, Leopold, 69, could face up to five years in prison. He has maintained his innocence, and his supporters say he is the target of partisan rivals and powerful union interests.
When prosecutors unveiled the charges in March, the allegations surprised many of Anne Arundel’s more than 500,000 residents, said Dan Nataf, a political science professor at Anne Arundel Community College. The man they knew remembered their names — and even their dogs’ names — years after meeting them. He sent notes to his constituents after weddings and Eagle Scout promotions and helped a mother protect her child from bullying at school.