Officer First Class Megan Mattingly, a member of the Frederick Police Department’s drug enforcement unit, has been reassigned to administrative duties while authorities investigate allegations she committed perjury during a May 20 preliminary hearing, Police Capt. Kevin Grubb said Wednesday.
Frederick Police Chief Kim Dine reassigned Mattingly, a five-year veteran, on May 25, Grubb said.
Mattingly will remain out of uniform handling administrative tasks pending the outcome of the investigation, the department’s general practice when allegations of wrongdoing are raised, Grubb said.
The officer’s annual pay of $50,245 and benefits remain unchanged, Grubb said.
On Thursday, Mattingly’s attorney, Patrick J. McAndrew, declined to discuss specifics of the matter.
“This case is not what it appears to be and is actually quite complex,” McAndrew said. “We are confident all of this will be sorted out through investigation.”
The Frederick Police Department has asked the Montgomery County Police Department to investigate what happened, Grubb said.
No criminal charges have been filed.
Mattingly’s problems surfaced three weeks ago during a hearing in Frederick County District Court to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to forward felony drug charges against Harold L. Coleman Jr., 41, of Sykesville to Circuit Court for trial.
On March 31, Mattingly arrested Coleman and charged him with two felony offenses of possession with intent to distribute drugs and two misdemeanor possession offenses.
In a statement of charges she typed up and signed under oath — and later testified to May 20 before District Judge W. Milnor Roberts — Mattingly said she saw Coleman drive up and park his car at 5:05 p.m. March 31 in the 300 block of Adam Road.
She testified she saw Coleman get out of his car, open the hood, remove a white bag from under the hood and walk into a residence.
“The problem Officer Mattingly had is that she wasn’t in the area to make those observations,” defense attorney Norman Usiak said Tuesday.
“What she testified to was derived from a call from a neighbor to the communications staff at the Frederick Police Department,” Usiak said.
In police recordings March 31 after the witness’s call is received, Mattingly says she’s been at the police department writing a warrant, but that she’ll respond to investigate the witness’s report, Usiak said.
While cross-examining Mattingly during the preliminary hearing May 20, Usiak pressed her on her testimony about what she had seen herself.
Several times, he reminded her she was under oath, drawing more than half a dozen objections from Assistant State’s Attorney Michael J. Moore.
Usiak specifically questioned her whereabouts when the call came in.
A 30-minute audiotape of the hearing reveals a number of exchanges between the defense lawyer and the officer.
“You were at the (police) station filling out a search warrant when the complaint was made?” Usiak said.
“Lee and Long (other officers) were in the area,” Mattingly replied.
“They inquired if you could get there directly?” Usiak said, reminding her they said they were involved with something else.
“I was writing my warrant,” she said.
“You didn’t observe my client operate the vehicle, did you?” Usiak asked.
“Cpl. Lee observed, and I wrote it in my report,” she replied.
“You didn’t observe these things, did you?”
“No,” she said.
“You put in your police report a lie,” Usiak said.
“Objection,” Moore said.
“Yes, because we write it (the police report) in the first person when we are the charging officer,” Mattingly said.
Usiak argued Mattingly’s dubious testimony against his client should not be given any credibility because she did not witness any of what she testified to herself.
“This officer has perjured herself … whether by naivet? or (inaudible) … she perjured herself,” Usiak said. “And she continued that perjury until it was drawn out of her.”
Roberts issued his ruling instantaneously.
“The felony charges … due to the issue of credibility, the charges are dismissed,” the judge said.
Prosecutors followed suit six days later, moving to drop the misdemeanor charges against Coleman as well, according to a letter from Moore to Cecelia Herring, a District Court clerk.
“The state declines to prosecute,” Moore wrote.
State’s Attorney Charlie Smith declined to comment on the situation involving Mattingly, an officer who has filed charges in at least 172 cases, according to court records.
“Due to the judge’s ruling that the testimony in (the Coleman case) was not credible, we had no other choice but to dismiss the entire case,” Smith said.
“I can tell you that we have procedures in place to deal with the sponsoring of witnesses, meaning whether or not we will continue to call that person as a credible witness, and whether perjury allegations should be pursued,” Smith said.
Any credible allegation of a state witness committing perjury is immediately referred to another state’s attorney’s office to avoid any conflict of interest, he said.
Fraternal Order of Police President Charlie Snyder said the FOP stands behind Mattingly.
“We need to let the investigation take its course, and we’ll get to the bottom of everything,” Snyder said.
Grubb said the allegations are difficult to fathom.
“I’ve not heard of anything of this nature in my 21 years here,” he said.
Grubb said the police department takes all allegations against it seriously.
“We will do whatever is necessary to have this investigated fully,” he said. “We hold our people accountable.”
Usiak said many police officers always testify truthfully, but not all.
“An officer lying under oath in court isn’t uncommon,” Usiak said. “It isn’t uncommon for a president to lie under oath. Police officers are humans, and they’re flawed just like everybody else. Too many of them think they are above the law.”
“Some may make a mistake or misstate something. But this was an outright lie.”
Once word got out about Roberts’ ruling, that he did not find the police officer’s testimony credible, Usiak said defense lawyers countywide were lining up to get recordings of the hearing.
“I think (the state has) been dumping cases ever since,” the defense attorney said.
Usiak said he was pleased the state’s attorney’s office agreed to look at Officer Mattingly’s cases, including a review of her testimony May 20.
“Normally, prosecutors coddle police,” he said.
Usiak praised Roberts for his display of fearlessness and ethics from the bench.
Time and again, when Moore objected to Usiak’s questions, “Judge Roberts demanded that the officer answer. Unfortunately, not every judge in Frederick County would do that.”
Coleman said he is grateful to Usiak for defending him with gusto, but he thinks there still is more justice to be done.
He wants to see Mattingly placed in the defendant’s chair.
“She was going to send me to my grave, and she knew she wasn’t there,” Coleman said.
“I’m not an angel, but don’t lie against me.”