Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

April 5, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

Said Trooper Would Suffer Fate of Murdered Queen Anneís Officers

Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today that illegal gun possession charges were filed yesterday against Herbert William Clopein, of Easton, Maryland, as part of Operation Crime Gun, Curranís state-wide prosecution initiative designed to target individuals who commit gun offenses.

Because Clopein reportedly threatened a Maryland State Trooper working out of the Easton Barrack, claiming that the trooper would suffer a fate similar to that of the two police officers who were killed with a shotgun in Queen Anneís County in February, an investigation was initiated by the Cease Fire Unit of the Maryland State Policeís Firearms Enforcement Division.

Information was developed indicating the Mr. Clopein was in possession of firearms, which his previous drug distribution conviction rendered him ineligible to possess. As a result of this information a search warrant was obtained from the Talbot County District Court. The Maryland State Police recovered from various locations around Clopeinís house, a .22 Ruger Rifle, a 12 Gauge Mossberg shotgun, a 30-30 Marlin rifle, and a .38 Smith and Wesson revolver. Additionally, numerous rounds of ammunition, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia were seized. Troopers working with the CeaseFire Unit also noted during the search that all of the firearms recovered were loaded, some firearms were in a cabinet under a "false bottom" designed to hide them, a phone book was observed to have "I WILL KILL YOU" written on the cover, and the windows to the residence had nails in the frame to prevent them from being opened.

As a result of what was discovered during the execution of the search and seizure warrant, the defendant was arrested and charged with CDS- Illegal Possession of a Firearm; Illegal Possession of a Regulated Firearm; Possession of Marijuana; and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Initially, bail in this case was set at $50,000, and Mr. Clopein was able to post a bond in that amount.

On April 4, 2001, the Attorney General filed six additional gun-related charges, which included a charge of Illegal Possession of a Regulated Firearm. This section is a recently enacted law that went into effect October 1, 2000, and it makes it a felony offense, subject to a five-year mandatory sentence, for an individual to possess a regulated firearm when previously convicted of a felony drug offense such as the one for which Mr. Clopein had been convicted. This office also filed a Motion to Revise Conditions of Pretrial Release, detailing the defendantís threatening behavior to the trooper, as well as the more severe penalties he now faces. The Honorable William H. Adkins, III granted the Attorney Generalís motion, and raised Mr. Clopeinís bail to a $150,000 cash bond. Mr. Clopein was then taken into custody, and is currently being held at the Talbot County Detention Center. A preliminary hearing is set for May 2, 2001.

Mr. Clopein is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Mr. Clopein faces a potential maximum sentence on the firearm-related charges alone of 20 years, five years of which would be a mandatory sentence.

This case was investigated by the Cease Fire Unit of the Maryland State Police and will be prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General, Special Crimes Unit, Criminal Investigations Division, in connection with a partnership the two agencies have formed to further efforts to combat handgun violations. Funding for Operation Crime Gun comes from a grant received from the Governorís Office on Crime Control and Prevention.