COURT NEWS: St. Mary’s States Attorney Fritz permitted 4-time DUI offender to only be jailed for sixty days

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COURT NEWS: St. Mary’s States Attorney Fritz permitted 4-time DUI offender to only be jailed for sixty days

LEONARDTOWN, MD. – What will it take for St. Mary’s States Attorney Richard Fritz to lock up a repeat offender DWI driver and throw away the key?  Apparently more than four DWI convictions.  Charles Bernard Wathen was given a more severe sentence on his second DWI conviction. Perhaps on his 5th DWI, Fritz will simply award him a gift certificate for a bar in Leonardtown.

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On Sept. 21, 2018, Charles Bernard Wathen (DOB 06/20/1976) of 39130 Chaptico Road, Mechanicsville, Md., entered a guilty plea to DWI in yet another in a string of plea deals with Fritz. THE DEAL: Wathen was sentenced to one year in jail with all but sixty days suspended. With Waldorf attorney Thomas Pyles as his deal arranger with Fritz, Wathen entered the St. Mary’s County Jail on Sept. 28, 2019.  Wathen was arrested for DWI by Maryland State Trooper Jeffrey Gibson on July 1, 2018, at 12:50 am, during the magic witching hours as the end of bar-time comes to a close and repeat offender DWI drivers take to the roadways.  Wathen was operating a 1986 orange Chevy pickup truck when he was stopped on Foley Mattingly Road near Helen, Md.  This location was close to the location of his 2009 DWI arrest.

DUI field test with Maryland Trooper.
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

Third DUI conviction fails to net jail time for Charles Wathen in plea deal with St. Mary’s States Attorney Richard Fritz

Three strikes for a DUI driver and he’s not out.  That is the justice system operated by St. Mary’s County States Attorney Richard Fritz when it comes to Charles Bernard Wathen, of Mechanicsville, Md.

Wathen was charged by St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Deputy Emory Johnson on April 12, 2015, at 6:24 am with DUI as he operated a 1998 Chevy at Cusic Court and Dallas Drive.  In a guilty plea deal with Fritz, Wathen was given no jail time and a fine of $484.50 with $252.50 of the fine suspended.  This deal for Wathen was on the occasion of his third DUI within ten years. Putting together this plea deal with Fritz was DUI attorney Joseph F. Vallario III, of Suitland, Md.

Somerville-Darryl-on-radio. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

Wathen rang up his second DUI conviction when he was arrested by St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Darryl Somerville on Dec. 26, 2009 at 8:54 pm while operating a 2000 Chevy northbound on Rt. 5 south of Foley Mattingly Road and the charge of driving while under the influence of alcohol contributed to a collision.  Represented by Leonardtown Attorney Shane Mattingly, Wathen entered a plea of guilty in a deal with Fritz that ended with a fine of $300 and a year in jail with six months suspended.

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Shane Mattingly announces candidacy for States Attorney in 2014.

Charles Bernard Wathen was arrested on May 14, 2006, by Maryland State Trooper D. Collins while operating a 2000 GMC southbound on Maryland Rt. 5 just north of the St. Mary’s County line and was charged with DUI. In a plea deal with Charles County States Attorney Leonard Collins in Charles County District Court and represented by Leonardtown attorney Michael Davis, Wathen was given Probation Before Judgement, fined $92.50 and given a jail sentence of ninety days with all but two days suspended.

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At the Jan. 7, 2020 meeting of the Board of St. Mary’s Commissioners, a supplement to the current budget was approved to give Fritz even more staff and salaries.

St. Mary’s County Commissioner John O’Conner THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

OFFICE OF THE STATE’S ATTORNEY – State Attorney’s District Court Staffing

Commissioner John O’Conner moved to approve the addition of the following three FTE positions: Senior Legal Assistant, Paralegal, and Assistant State’s Attorney in the Office of the State’s Attorney’s, and approve the transfer of budget allocation of $139,460 to increase the State’s Attorney’s budget from the Commissioners Emergency Reserve and authorize the Commissioner President to execute the related documents. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Eric Colvin and approved by Commissioners Randy Guy, Eric Colvin, Mike Hewitt, Todd Morgan, and O’Connor.

St. Mary’s Board approved the new $3,000,000 police station on Great Mills Road, where deputies will be able to hide out instead of patrolling Lexington Park.

Salaries of States Attorney’s Office

St. Mary’s States Attorney Richard Fritz                  $127,200

Joseph Boyd, Assistant State’s Attorney

Laura Caspar, Assistant State’s Attorney

Gina Fioravanti, Assistant State’s Attorney

Buffy Giddens, Senior Assistant State’s Attorney & Chief of District Court

Kevin Hill, Assistant State’s Attorney & Chief of Child Support

Michael Kane, Assistant State’s Attorney

John Pleisse, Assistant State’s Attorney

Jaymi Sterling, Deputy State’s Attorney & Chief of Staff

Ted Weiner, Senior Deputy State’s Attorney

Daniel White, Senior Assistant State’s Attorney

FY2017 BUDGET                $3,450,423

Former St. Mary’s Deputy States Attorney Joe Stanalonis is now a Circuit Court Judge who must stand for election. Judges can overrule a plea deal. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo
St. Mary’s District Court Judge Christy Chesser was formerly a Deputy States Attorney and is now a District Court Judge where she has ample opportunity to nix a plea deal for repeat offender DUI drivers. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo
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Now retired St. Mary’s Circuit Court Judge Karen Abrams beat Fritz in 2004, even in the Republican primary. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo
St. Mary’s Circuit Court Judge Mike Stamm won the election in 2006 over opponents Shane Mattingly and George Sparling.
Now retired Circuit Court Judge C. Clarke Raley at the dedication of the St. Mary’s Court House Expansion and Renovation that was fought tooth and nail by Judge John Hanson Briscoe. Given this is St. Mary’s County, after Briscoe caused cost overruns and lengthy delays, the Board of Commissioners renamed the courthouse after Briscoe. Briscoe wanted to abandon the historic courthouse and pushed to build a new $23 million Judicial Palace. The conservative Republicans on the 1994 Board – Larry Jarboe, Chris Brugman, and Francy Eagan stood firm on keeping the courthouse in Leonardtown.
The Late St. Mary’s Circuit Court Judge John Hanson Briscoe.
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo
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