Trooper robbed at poker game retires

January 07, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- The Maryland State Police trooper who was among those robbed at an illegal poker game in May has retired due to post tramautic stress from his role in the wounding of murder suspect Douglas Pryor, the trooper's attorney said Wednesday.

Former Trooper 1st Class Michael A. Ford, 34, was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder by state evaluators and was granted a disability retirement, said attorney Byron L. Warnken, of Baltimore.

Ford fired three shots during the December 2007 arrest of Pryor, which followed a manhunt in the Smithsburg area, said Warnken, whose firm provides general counsel to the Maryland Troopers Association.

None of the shots Ford fired hit Pryor, Warnken said.

"It was a very high-pressured, intense, literally life-and-death situation," Warnken said.

He said Ford's retirement was not related to the May 30 game of Texas Hold 'Em in a Hagerstown office building where two masked men robbed Ford and 17 others at gunpoint, getting away with about $4,000.


State police spokeswoman Elena Russo said Ford retired Jan. 1 after 10 years, 11 months of service. He was assigned to the Hagerstown barracks.

None of the other troopers Warnken represents have been diagnosed with PTSD as a result of the Pryor arrest, he said.

Ford had been suspended since confirming to investigators that he was one of the victims of the poker game robbery and was never returned to active duty, Russo said.

Investigators learned of the robbery when someone told one of Ford's supervisors about it on June 10, an investigator testified during an August preliminary hearing for a suspect in the robbery.

It was not clear from court documents whether Ford was playing poker when he was robbed.

Neither Russo nor Washington County Deputy State's Attorney Joseph S. Michael would comment Wednesday on whether Ford was participating in the game.

Michael agreed not to prosecute witnesses to the robbery to gain their cooperation in that investigation, Maryland State Police Cpl. Carl R. Hager of the Combined County Criminal Investigation Unit in Cumberland, Md., wrote in court documents.

Ford "was confronted and corroborated the robbery did occur while participating in a poker game," Hager wrote.

Maryland State Police conducted a separate, internal investigation into the poker playing, Russo said.

Prosecutors last month dropped charges against the only person who had been charged in the robbery.

Another man, William Ray Cosey, 54, of 301 S. Mulberry St. in Hagerstown, was fined $1,000 after he pleaded guilty to renting the space for the purpose of gambling, a misdemeanor.

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