June 9, 2010

Montgomery's lawsuit against officer dismissed

A gun-owning judge threw out Montgomery County's lawsuit today that sought to reclaim money spent on a police training program that offered deeply discounted weapons to police officers. Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Terrance J. McGann said in his decision county employees were to blame for a lack of oversight of the program. He also noted during the hearing that his sons bought him a gun for his 60th birthday.

"If the county feels they got duped or feel embarrassed or they shouldn't have to pay, well, that's their fault," McGann said.

In the lawsuit, filed by the county March 3, attorneys claimed Aaron Kenneth Bailey "defrauded" the county out of about $400,000 by using taxpayer money to offer discounted guns to officers. Bailey, of Bethesda, operated the Applied Sciences for Public Safety LLC courses. County officers used the county's tuition assistance fund to pay for the courses, but a portion of the tuition went to purchase guns offered to participants at deep discounts.

The county sued Bailey and Applied Sciences for $400,000 to recoup the tuition assistance funding and for $500,000 in punitive damages. McGann ruled Wednesday in favor of a motion by Bailey and Applied Sciences to dismiss the case.

Christopher A. Hinrichs, assistant county attorney, said the county respected the court's decision, but would be reviewing its options. The county's tuition assistance program, which offered money to employees to attend training courses, was shut down last year after questions were raised over the discounted guns.

From fiscal 2007 through Sept. 4, 2009, the county spent about $2.4 million on 3,467 training courses for about 1,465 employees, according to a report from the county's inspector general.

The program is not funded in fiscal 2011. The company was allowed to offer perks to law enforcement officers who participated in the training courses, said Charles S. Rand, a Rockville attorney representing Bailey and Life Sciences. He said the company could have offered lunches or other prizes to attract business and was not obligated to tell the county how it spent its profits.

"They don't like the souvenirs," Rand said of the county. "It's a gun, and a gun in Montgomery County is verboten."

"What if it were a lobster tail?" asked Judge McGann.

"Well, then I don't think we'd be here," Rand replied.

Glock firearms, which typically retail at $600, were sold to deputies for about $100. McGann said officials could have done more to look into the program before authorizing county money for the courses, but the company and Bailey were not obligated to tell the county how the money was being spent.

"It's their tuition money that they got, and they could use it any way they wanted," McGann said. "They didn't tell the county that no extra dollars are going to any entertainment costs." SOURCE: Gazette

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