Richard Impallaria, a former state delegate, pleaded guilty on Friday to a charge of misconduct in office — but he could avoid a conviction if he does community service, and pays restitution for rent the state paid for an office that prosecutors said was actually used for personal storage.
Impallaria had been charged in summer 2022 with multiple criminal counts of theft, misappropriation of funds and misconduct in office related to inappropriate use of state funds for a district office and office furniture.
The Office of the State Prosecutor alleges that Impallaria used state funds for years to rent a cottage in Essex to serve as his district office, even though it was outside of his district and wasn’t actually used for legislative business. Lawmakers are allowed to rent such offices, but can only have them outside their district with permission from General Assembly leaders.
Impallaria, a Republican, served 20 years in the Maryland House of Delegates representing parts of Harford and Baltimore counties before losing a bid for reelection last year.
The property the state paid for to be Impallaria’s district office was next door to a cottage he rented for personal use. The state initially paid $700 in rent for the district office, while other cottages on the street owned by the same landlord rented for $350, prosecutors said in court Friday. The rent increased over time.
Meanwhile, Impallaria paid no rent on his personal cottage, and the landlord assigned the state’s payment evenly between the district office and the personal cottage, prosecutors said.
All told, the state paid $92,800 in rent for Impallaria’s office over the course of 10 years, prosecutors said. Of that, $44,100 was assigned to the rent due for Impallaria’s personal office.
Impallaria reached a plea agreement with the Office of the State Prosecutor that resulted in him pleading guilty to just one count of misconduct in office in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court on Friday.
Impallaria agreed to pay $44,100 in restitution to the state, complete 100 hours of community service and plead guilty to a gun charge in a pending case in Baltimore County, related to a weapon found at the property when it was searched.
If Impallaria completes those steps by June, Judge Stacy McCormack said she would convert the case to a probation before judgement, allowing the former delegate to have no conviction on his record.
Impallaria declined to talk to reporters following the brief court hearing. But his attorney, Steven D. Silverman, said the plea agreement was in his client’s best interest.
“When you weigh in the factors and stress and costs of proceeding to trial, it’s very hard to turn that down,” said Silverman, a managing partner of the Baltimore firm of Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White.
Silverman said if the case had gone to trial, he had “a strong factual defense” to the charges, including people who would have testified that they visited the cottage on official legislative business.
The case was prosecuted by the Office of the State Prosecutor, represented in court Friday by Assistant State Prosecutor Abigail Ticse and Deputy State Prosecutor Sarah R. David. State Prosecutor Charlton Howard III observed the proceedings in Annapolis.
All three declined to comment after the hearing, but Howard issued a statement: “The public needs to trust that elected officials are good stewards of the State’s resources. Our office will continue to work toward ensuring that those individuals who abuse their positions of trust are held accountable.”