State Prosecutor Will Investigate Alleged Surveillance By Harford County Executive
HARFORD COUNTY - The criminal complaint lodged by a county councilman alleging that Harford County Executive Robert Cassilly conducted surveillance on him and others has been forwarded to the Office of the State Prosecutor for review, the State Prosecutor's office confirmed on Wednesday.
The complaint, filed by Republican County Councilman Aaron Penman, accuses the county executive of monitoring phone calls and email exchanges involving himself, the county sheriff, ex-County Executive Barry Glassman, land-use attorney Joseph Snee Jr., and several "selected citizens."
Penman contends that Cassilly lacks the jurisdiction to "monitor or scrutinize" electronic data beyond the purview of the county's executive branch, claiming that Cassilly did so to obstruct an investigation into an alleged misappropriation of $7 million.
Cassilly has refuted the accusations, stating that an "exhaustive internal investigation … disclosed no grounds" for the allegations. Cassilly also asserted that Penman declined to cooperate with the inquiry.
In a statement, Penman urged Cassilly, a fellow Republican eight months into his term, and other implicated parties to step down from their roles temporarily.
In his statement, Cassilly said that "at no point did the executive branch monitor Councilman Penman's emails or cellphone." According to the executive, staff members examined the county's servers for correspondence between Penman — a former deputy in the sheriff's office — and the likely recipients of his claims: the sheriff, the sheriff's information officer and campaign manager, and Snee, who Cassilly identified as a campaign advisor for Penman.
Cassilly also maintained that county employees should not anticipate privacy when utilizing the county's electronic devices, including county-provided cellphones, and that the county reserves the right to examine these devices at any time.
The Harford County Sheriff's Office issued a statement asserting that "if substantiated, this case is especially egregious, given that Maryland has some of the most extensive and rigorous wiretapping laws in the country."
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