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Maryland Del. Rick Impallaria charged with theft, misconduct in office

Baltimore Sun logoBaltimore Sun 7/28/2022 Alison Knezevich, Dan Belson, Baltimore Sun
Harford County Republican Del. Rick Impallaria at a 2019 community meeting. © David Anderson/The Aegis/Baltimore Sun/TNS Harford County Republican Del. Rick Impallaria at a 2019 community meeting.

Longtime state Del. Rick Impallaria — whose criminal background has led to past calls to step down — was charged Wednesday with theft, embezzlement and misconduct in office after prosecutors allege he misused state funds to pay for a “district office” outside his district, and to cover campaign fundraising expenses.

Impallaria, 59, is accused of a scheme in which the state paid $92,800 in rent over a decade. Prosecutors also say he used more than $2,400 in state funds for work related to campaign mailers in 2019.

The charges are the latest legal troubles for the Republican lawmaker, who was first elected in 2002 and represents parts of Baltimore and Harford counties. A court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 15.

Reached by phone, Impallaria said: “I have no comment.” Then he hung up.

In a statement, his attorney, Steven D. Silverman, said the delegate “has been aware of these allegations for some time.”

“Having investigated the State Prosecutor’s version of facts as alleged in the indictment, along with interviewing over a dozen witnesses and reviewing the relevant documents, I can say in no uncertain terms that Delegate Impallaria has not violated either the letter or spirit of the law,” Silverman said.

Impallaria ran for reelection in last week’s primary election and lost to Del. Lauren Arikan in a redrawn district.

The charges were filed Wednesday in Anne Arundel Circuit Court by the Office of the State Prosecutor, which handles cases of public corruption.

“Elected officials are expected to be good stewards of the State’s resources,” State Prosecutor Charlton T. Howard III said in a statement. “Any official who abuses the public trust for personal gain must be held accountable.”

Prosecutors allege Impallaria used General Assembly funds to pay rent on an Essex building on Punte Lane that was purportedly for a district office, but is actually located outside his district. The building is next door to a cottage that Impallaria rented for his personal use. Both buildings were owned by the same landlord.

Impallaria paid nothing to rent the cottage during the time period in question, according to court papers. Rent ledgers indicate monthly payments from the General Assembly were split between the “district office” and the personal cottage next door.

A search of the “district office” in September 2021 revealed that it was used to store the delegate’s personal belongings, including bedroom furniture, folding beds, pellet rifles and ammunition, skis and campaign materials, court papers allege.

In addition, authorities say that in 2019 Impallaria schemed to create an invoice for office furniture that was never ordered. He then sought reimbursement from the General Assembly, they allege — and used the money on campaign mailers.

In a statement, a top aide to Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat, said that “the misuse of state funds is an issue we take seriously.”

“We can’t comment in an ongoing case, but Speaker Jones expects every member of the House of Delegates to uphold the law and be honest stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Jeremy Baker, her chief of staff.

In 2019, the Maryland Republican Party asked Impallaria to resign, with members approving a resolution at an Ocean City convention stating that he was “unworthy of the title Delegate.” They pointed to past charges against him, and a case in which his campaign worker was fined for making illegal robocalls to voters that purported to be from the “National Center for Transgender Equality.”

The robocalls targeted Republican Del. Kathy Szeliga, who represents the same district as Impallaria. On Wednesday, Szeliga said Impallaria should step down.

“For the sake of the integrity of the Maryland House of Delegates, Del. Impallaria should resign and focus his attention on the legal troubles that he’s facing,” Szeliga said.

In 2017, Impallaria was sentenced to two days in jail for a charge of driving while impaired in Ocean City.

In the 1980s, he was charged with assault with intent to murder in a case in which he was accused of trying to run down four people, including his mother and brother, after an argument at his home in Joppatowne. He served three years of probation on a battery charge.

Baltimore Sun reporter Hannah Gaskill contributed to this article.

©2022 Baltimore Sun. Visit baltimoresun.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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