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"Your honor, this was an aberration,"

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  • "Your honor, this was an aberration,"

    Ruark gets fine, points
    Wicomico prosecutor also receives probation

    By Brian Shane • Staff Writer • May 13, 2008

    OCEAN CITY -- Wicomico County State's Attorney Davis Ruark received one year unsupervised probation, a $500 fine and 12 points on his driver's license following his February arrest for drunken driving.

    "Your honor, this was an aberration," Ruark told District Court Judge John C. Coolahan on Monday. "This will not happen again. I've been on the other side of the table for thousands of cases and I understand the ramifications."

    A second charge of possessing a handgun while under the influence of alcohol was dropped, according to prosecutor Thomas DeGonia, because Ruark accepted full responsibility for the drunken driving charges and agreed to give up his gun permit. He added that the DUI, not the handgun charge, was the primary offense.

    In court, Ruark agreed to surrender his permit to carry a handgun and will be eligible to reapply for a new permit with the State Police in one year. Ruark said Monday he carried a gun for protection following several death threats received during the course of his career.

    "There was a legitimate reason for him to have the weapon in the first place," DeGonia said. "The Maryland State Police will determine if that's still a valid cause for him to have another permit."

    A conviction could have ended his job. Maryland law holds that any elected official convicted of a felony or misdemeanor during their term that is related to public duties and involving "moral turpitude" shall be removed from office.

    Police stopped Ruark's county-owned sedan after midnight Feb. 22 after an anonymous caller reported his erratic driving along Route 90 toward Ocean City. Witnesses said Ruark had been served at Salisbury's Market Street Inn before hitting the road.

    When stopped, Ruark failed a field sobriety test. A breath test later administered at the police station showed him to have a .15 percent blood-alcohol concentration, nearly twice Maryland's .08 legal limit, DeGonia said. Police released Ruark to off-duty Wicomico Sheriff Mike Lewis, who took Ruark home that night. Lewis took Ruark's .45-caliber Glock handgun and county vehicle into his possession before escorting Ruark to his condo.

    A gun possession charge was filed by Ocean City police a few days later because police found a loaded handgun in the car during the traffic stop. The gun later was determined to belong to Ruark's office, and had been given to Ruark by Lewis.

    Lewis would not comment Monday about the outcome of Monday's proceedings, nor would Salisbury Police Chief Allan Webster.

    Ruark, 52, took a month's paid leave from his post as Wicomico's top prosecutor, sought alcohol treatment and returned to work part-time.

    Worcester County State's Attorney Joel Todd brought in DeGonia, a former assistant state's attorney in Montgomery County, as a special prosecutor to avoid any appearance of favoritism. Molly Eckman, spokesperson for the Worcester County State's Attorney's Office, said Todd had no involvement in this case.

    Rich Parolski, Ruark's attorney, said his client's spotless driving record and lack of any criminal record made him eligible for probation. The maximum penalty for driving under the influence is a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

    "My client obviously comes here as a first offender," Parolski said. "I'm sure he's going to be watched very closely by the 90,000 members of Wicomico County. That's probably a tougher probation than most people would have."

    Parolski presented to the judge a few of the hundreds of letters and e-mails received expressing love and support for Ruark. The public response, Ruark said, made him feel "overwhelmed and humbled."

    Parolski also sought probation because immediately after his arrest, Ruark checked himself into a North Carolina alcohol treatment center where Parolski said Ruark underwent daily six-hour "intensive" counseling sessions.

    "We don't expect to have any problems in the future," Parolski said.

    Coolahan agreed to unsupervised probation based on Ruark's status in the community.

    "You're going to be in the public eye," the judge said. "If you mess up, people are going to know."

    The judge also asked arresting officers Shawn Beach and Ronnie Townsend, seated to the rear of the courtroom, if Ruark gave officers "a hard time" during his arrest. They said he did not.

    Ruark's current term as Wicomico County state's attorney will end in 2010. He took office in 1989. Ruark previously has said stepping down from his $110,477-a-year salary and the post he has held since the late 1980s was not being considered.

    410-213-9442, Ext. 14

  • #2
    Is this Ruark any relation to the ones who own the golf courses?


    • #3
      What is simply amazing to me is we have a man who makes $110,000 per year paid by the taxpayers to hold people responsible in court for their actions.

      He begins drinking in Salisbury to the point he is double the legal limit for DWI and then makes the trip from Salisbury to Ocean City putting every car filled with those same taxpayers at risk for injury or death due to his drunken state.

      Upon being stopped he is driven home by the police.

      Now he takes a few months off with pay. Appears in court and is given a $500 fine. And back to work he goes driving his state-owned vehicle with insurance coverage paid for by the state suffering what consequences?

      And today he is pushing in court to hold others responsible for their actions...

      Just imagine for one minute if his luck had run out and he was involved in one of many DWI accidents causing injury or death. The state would be left responsible because he was driving their vehicle not to mention with a loaded gun in the car under the influence of alcohol with a reading twice the legal limit.

      In what world other then local government would this man have a job?
      Be allowed to drive a "company" vehicle? Be allowed to sit in judgement of others when he can't act in a responsible manner himself?

      How he can appear in court in his legal capacity is beyond my ability to understand.

      We have most certainly entered the "Twilight Zone".

      Perhaps he could tell those potential victims of his behavior it was all an "aberration".


      • #4
        I agree with all od MD NY's points.....but drinking and driving the gov car IMHO is grounds for dismissal in itself (if not for the liability only) He must've had a poor lawyer to get a 12 pointer on a first offence,