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Maryland state trooper pleads guilty to fabricating DUI arrests, writing tickets to phantom people

Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

BALTIMORE -- A Maryland state trooper pleaded guilty to perjury and misconduct charges for fabricating drunken-driving arrests and issuing tickets to people who did not exist, in an apparent attempt to boost his stats.

The Attorney General's Office, which handled the case, said Cpl. John Sollon, 36, was assigned to the unit that specializes in DUI cases. Between Jan. 20, 2018, and Dec. 29, 2019, prosecutors said Sollon charged fictitious people in six arrests that had not occurred.

"In each case, no actual traffic stop was conducted, no individual was arrested, and the individual purportedly stopped did not exist," the Attorney General's Office said in a news release.

The charges were forwarded to the District Court for adjudication, and in four of the cases arrest warrants were issued for the fictitious people not appearing in court.

State police said Sollon was reported by fellow troopers.

Sollon was charged late last month and pleaded guilty Wednesday, receiving a suspended sentence of six years, to be followed by three years of probation. He also was fined $6,000 and has to perform 300 hours of community service.

Maryland State Police give out awards for "top producing" troopers who make the most DUI arrests. Sollon was a member of S.P.I.D.R.E., which stands for State Police Impaired Driving Effort and is described as an elite unit, since its inception in 2013.

The Attorney General's Office noted that in 2018, the fake arrests allowed Sollon to reach 30, the threshold to receive a traffic safety award. In 2019, they pushed him over 50 arrests, which set a S.P.I.D.R.E. supervisor record.

Sollon's defense attorney declined to comment.

 

In three of the four cases in which court officials believed those arrested had failed to appear for court, other police officers traveled to the addresses Sollon listed for the fictitious defendants in futile efforts to serve warrants, prosecutors said.

"The citizens of Maryland have an expectation that law enforcement officers are conducting their jobs honestly and with the utmost integrity," state Attorney General Brian Frosh said. "When officers do not tell the truth, it is a betrayal of the public trust."

Sollon remains employed but suspended without pay.

"Now that a criminal conviction has occurred, the Maryland State Police administrative disciplinary process regarding the corporal will ensue," state police spokesman Greg Shipley said.

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