Cops & Courts

Property Damage Spree

OCEAN CITY – An Ocean City man was arrested on assault and malicious destruction of property charges last week after getting bounced from a north-end restaurant before resisting arrest and assaulting two Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers.

Last Friday, OCPD responded to Duffy’s Tavern in north Ocean City for a reported disorderly male who had damaged restaurant property. Police officers spoke with tavern employees and learned that earlier in the evening, a male suspect later identified as Matthew William Gruber, 26, of Ocean City, had been in the establishment and was allegedly intoxicated.

The management reportedly asked Gruber to leave but he kept returning. Eventually, tavern employees removed Gruber from the establishment. Later that evening, Gruber was located near the rear of the establishment near a refrigeration unit that had been damaged. OCPD officers located Gruber nearby in the Montego Bay area and attempted to take him into custody for the malicious destruction of property at Duffy’s earlier.

Gruber allegedly resisted arrest and assaulted two police officers. Gruber was eventually subdued and charged with two counts of second-degree assault on a police officer, malicious destruction of property and resisting arrest. The next day, on November 13, OCPD officers responded to the Montego Bay community in reference to several damaged sidewalk light posts owned by the Montego Bay Association. The investigation revealed that sometime during the night before prior to his arrest, Gruber had allegedly damaged the light posts and additional counts of malicious destruction of property were tacked on. Gruber was taken before a District Court Commissioner and was ordered held on a $10,000 bond before being transferred to the Worcester County Jail.

Suspended Sentence
For Highway Robbery

BERLIN – A Berlin man arrested on first-degree robbery and assault charges in July after allegedly robbing a man in a vehicle in which he was traveling pleaded guilty to second-degree assault last week in Circuit Court and was sentenced to 18 months in jail, all of which was suspended in favor of probation and a fine.

Around 11 p.m. on July 16, Worcester County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a reported robbery in a vehicle on Route 50 near the Glen Riddle community. Upon arrival at the scene, deputies met with a victim, who told them he was riding in a vehicle with two other individuals who demanded his money, cell phone and keys.

Based on the investigation, the sheriff’s deputies were able to identify one of the suspects as Robert William Merryman, 22, of Berlin. Merryman was arrested a short time later and charged with first-degree robbery and first- and second-degree assault. Last week in Circuit Court, Merryman entered an Alford Plea to a second-degree assault charge. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not plead guilty but acknowledges the state has enough evidence to convict.

Merryman was sentenced to 18 months in jail, all of which was suspended but the 116 days he was incarcerated awaiting trial. He was then placed on probation for two years and fined $500.

Two For One In Pocomoke

BERLIN – Worcester County sheriff’s deputies this week made two arrests when the companion of a suspect they were tracking was found with a loaded gun on his person.

Around 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Worcester County Sheriff’s deputies were in the Pocomoke area when a lookout was posted for an individual they had been tracking, identified as Martel Blake, 18, of Pocomoke. Blake had been observed by Pocomoke police but had eluded capture. A short time later, sheriff’s deputies spotted the vehicle in which Blake was reportedly traveling and conducted a traffic stop.

As a deputy was conducting the traffic stop, the right rear passenger exited the vehicle and began to walk away. The deputy confronted the individual, later identified as David Dewayne Dickerson, 18, of Pocomoke, and located a loaded .357 revolver in his right front pants pocket. Both Blake and Dickerson were arrested.

Blake was held on an arrest warrant for possession of a handgun on his person and is being held on a $3,000 bond at the Worcester County Detention Center. Dickerson was charged with possession of a handgun and wearing or carrying a deadly weapon. He is also being held in the Detention Center on a $3,000 bond.

Attempted Rape Case
Forwarded To Circuit

SNOW HILL – A Newark, Md. man arrested in September on assault, attempted rape and other serious charges after allegedly attacking a female employee at a West Ocean City motel had his case forwarded to Circuit Court last week and is expected to be arraigned next Wednesday.

Around 1:30 p.m. on September 9, Maryland State Police troopers responded to a reported assault and attempted rape at the Francis Scott Key Resort in West Ocean City. The investigation revealed a suspect, later identified as Jeffrey Lee Hall II, 21, whose last known address was in Newark, Md., had entered a room at the motel where a female employee was working, closed the door behind him and produced a jagged piece of metal fashioned into a weapon.

Hall allegedly threatened the victim with the makeshift weapon and demanded money. When the victim told Hall she had no money, he reportedly told her, “I need help, I’m homeless, and I need sex,” according to the statement of charges. After that, a struggle ensued and Hall allegedly forced the victim to the floor and physically and sexually assaulted her. The victim was able to wrest the weapon from Hall’s hand and threw it in a toilet.

The victim then freed herself from Hall and was able to attract the attention of other employees in the area. At that point, Hall fled the scene and ran toward a nearby parking lot. Hotel employees chased Hall and were able to detain him until police arrived.

Hall was charged with first- and second-degree assault, attempted first- and second-degree rape, armed robbery, reckless endangerment, false imprisonment, a third- and fourth-degree sex offense and burglary. His case was forwarded from District Court to Circuit Court earlier this month and his arraignment is set for next Wednesday.

Jail Time For DWI, Drugs

SNOW HILL – A Willards man arrested on drug possession charges and numerous traffic offenses in July after getting pulled over for drunk driving pleaded guilty last week in District Court to driving while impaired and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, all but two of which were suspended.

Around 11:40 p.m. on July 28, a Maryland State Police trooper patrolling in the area of Route 50 and Main Street near Berlin pulled over a vehicle for driving 80 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone. The trooper activated his emergency lights in an attempt to pull over the vehicle, but it continued driving for about a mile and a half before finally stopping.

The trooper approached the vehicle and immediately detected the odor of an alcoholic beverage. The suspect, later identified as Frank Schmitt, 41, of Willards, was removed from the vehicle and placed under arrest for driving under the influence after refusing all tests.

The trooper then observed in plain view prescription medication that wasn’t prescribed to Schmitt. The pills seized included Vicodan, Valium and Lyrica, all of which are considered controlled dangerous substances. Schmitt was then charged with DUI, possession of prescription medication without a valid prescription, attempting to flee and elude a police officer and related traffic charges.

Last week in District Court, Schmitt pleaded guilty to driving while impaired and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, all but two of which were then suspended. As a result of the plea, the other charges against him were not prosecuted.

False Alarm Nets Probation, Fine

OCEAN CITY – A Hagerstown man arrested in August for breaking the glass and falsely pulling a fire alarm after helping an intoxicated woman back to her Boardwalk hotel room pleaded guilty last week in District Court and was placed on probation and fined.

On August 14, an OCPD officer responded to the Harrison Hall Hotel on 14th Street to meet with hotel management about a fire alarm that had been activated around 2:30 a.m. that morning. The hotel manager told police she had viewed surveillance tape from the incident earlier that morning and believed the suspect who pulled the alarm was staying in Room 422.

The officer viewed the same surveillance tape and observed two males helping into the hotel room a woman who appeared to have trouble walking due to intoxication. Several minutes later, the two male suspects exited the room and started walking toward the fourth-floor elevator. One of the men, later identified as William Mariano Lorenti, 30, of Hagerstown, allegedly broke the glass on a fire alarm and pulled the lever with his left hand, activating the alarm.

Lorenti and the other man then got on the elevator, but when they realized it wouldn’t work because of the fire alarm activation, they started walking down the adjacent steps. The officer was able to follow the two men on the surveillance until they reached the first floor.

After watching the tape, the officer went to Room 422 and Lorenti answered the door. The officer noted in his report clothes and a hat similar to what the suspect was wearing at the time he allegedly pulled the fire alarm were on the floor in the room. The officer then asked Lorenti to show him his hands, which were covered with small cuts consistent with breaking the glass. Lorenti explained he received the cuts from shaving his arms and hands earlier.

The officer told Lorenti why he was questioning and also explained people sometimes make mistakes when they are drinking. At that point, Lorenti told the officer he did not remember breaking the glass and pulling the alarm, but he understood the officer had a job to do. Last week in District Court, Lorenti pleaded guilty to falsely activating a fire alarm and was placed on probation and fined $500. He was also ordered to pay $475 in restitution to the hotel.

Alleged Assault With Scissors

BERLIN – A Berlin woman was arrested on assault and other charges this week after allegedly assaulting her former boyfriend with a pair of scissors before attempting to get out of a police car.

Around noon on Monday, Worcester County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a reported assault in progress at a residence in the Glen Riddle community. Upon arrival, deputies made contact with the suspect, later identified as Terra Nicole Rygh, 30, of Berlin, who had allegedly assaulted her former boyfriend with a pair of scissors.

While in transport after her arrest, Rygh allegedly became very agitated and tried to release herself from her seatbelt, according to police reports. She was then secured in a car with a prisoner shield and transported to the sheriff’s office for processing. Rygh was charged with first- and second-degree assault, two counts of disorderly conduct and four counts of reckless endangerment. She was taken to the Worcester County Detention Center and ordered held on a $25,000 bond.

Probation, Fine Ordered

SNOW HILL – An Ocean City woman arrested on drunk-driving charges in September after her car left the roadway, flipped over and burst into flames in a northern Worcester County farm field was granted probation before judgment this week in District Court and was fined.

Around 3:20 a.m. on Sept. 25, Maryland State Police troopers responded to a reported single-vehicle accident on Route 610 near Shavox Rd. The investigation revealed the vehicle, a 2004 Honda, left the roadway, entered a ditch and flipped over in a farm field. As a result of the collision, the vehicle caught fire and became fully engulfed in flames.

The driver, identified as Kristina Lynn Wenger, 40, of Ocean City, was able to free herself from the burning vehicle. She was transported to PRMC in Salisbury via State Police helicopter due to injuries sustained in the collision and was listed in stable condition after the accident.

The Showell Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene and extinguished the vehicle fire and the roadway was closed while police conducted their investigation. Wenger was charged with driving under the influence, negligent driving and other related traffic offenses. This week in District Court, Wenger was granted probation before judgment and was fined $400.

OCPD Police Academy Graduation
OCEAN CITY – The OCPD recently graduated its 27th class of the Citizens Police Academy.

In early November, 23 civilians received their graduation certificate after completing the 10-week course. During the course, students met a variety of OCPD officers to learn about criminal law, traffic enforcement, evidence collection, firearms, arrest procedures, narcotics enforcement and many other topics. Students also participated in practical scenarios, which afforded citizens hands-on opportunities to understand various law enforcement applications.