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Washington County Sheriff's Office: System is undermining efforts

Maryland District Court Commissioners recently released a Smithsburg man after he was arrested and charged with multiple counts of theft

November 29, 2012|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • Bryan Lynn Fishack
Bryan Lynn Fishack

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said their law-enforcement efforts have been undermined by Maryland District Court Commissioners who recently decided on two occasions to summarily release a Smithsburg man after he was arrested and charged with multiple counts of theft.

On Thursday, the sheriff’s office issued a statement saying it was stunned by the Court Commissioners’ decision to release Bryan Lynn Fishack, 27, of 12729 Bradbury Ave.

Fishack has been charged a total of five times with metal thefts since the beginning of September, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Carly Hose said. Commissioners chose to release Fishack on his own recognizance after he was arrested by deputies on Sept. 25 and Nov. 19.

Hose said Fishack was charged again Thursday morning in connection with a theft at Grimm’s Salvage Yard near Smithsburg. In that case, he was taken to the Washington County Detention Center, where he was being held Thursday afternoon on a $25,000 bond.

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“Once a person is arrested and charged, the fate of the perpetrator’s detention status is left at the hands of a Maryland District Court Commissioner,” Maj. Bob Leatherman, sheriff’s office patrol commander, said Thursday in a prepared statement. “Why a District Court Commissioner recently chose to release Mr. Fishack from his multiple arrests within the past two months (for theft related crimes) is something I cannot answer. But it is obviously counter productive to our law-enforcement efforts.”

When reached Thursday, Timothy Haven, administrative commissioner at Washington County District Court, referred comments to the Maryland Judiciary in Annapolis.

Terri Bolling, Maryland Judiciary spokeswoman, said in an email that she wasn’t permitted to speak about active cases.

She did, however, issue a statement showing some of the criteria that commissioners follow when they decide how to handle criminal cases.  

“Upon police arrest, the defendant is brought before a commissioner to determine conditions of pre-trial release; this is done within 24 hours after arrest,” Bolling said. “The commissioner conducts the initial review of the arrest to advise the defendant of his or her rights and to determine the pre-trial release conditions.”

She said each defendant is assessed independently for pre-trial release using the same criteria, and “every case before a commissioner is unique and commissioners must consider a number of factors and information that will indicate if the defendant will likely appear at trial and the concerns posed to the public’s health and safety.”  

Fishack has been charged with 13 counts of theft-related crimes over the course of five incidents since September.

He most recently was charged Thursday morning with one count of theft from $1,000 to $10,000 for allegedly stealing metal from Grimm’s Salvage Yard at 21411 Jefferson Blvd. near Smithsburg, according to the sheriff’s office and Washington County District Court records.

Police allege officers serving in a joint operation between the sheriff’s office and the Hagerstown Police Department observed Fishack enter the salvage yard and leave several hours later with property from the business.

Fishack also was charged in the incidents listed below:

• On Nov. 19, Fishack was charged with one count of theft from $10,000 to $100,000.

Officers allege Fishack stole 293 bronze vases valued at $43,950 from graves at Rest Haven Cemetery near Hagerstown. The thefts of the vases occurred Oct. 15-16, according to court documents.

Fishack was taken to the Court Commissioners and released on his own recognizance.

• On Oct. 6, Fishack was charged with attempted theft of less than $1,000.

In that case, Fishack allegedly tried to take an air conditioner on Oct. 1 in the 12000 block of Longnecker Lane in Chewsville, according to court documents.

A summons was issued, but documents don’t indicate whether he was arrested.

• On Sept. 25, Fishack was charged with one count each of theft of less than $1,000 and trespassing on private property.

Police allege Fishack stole copper wire and bulk metal items from Maryland Metals at 304 W. Church St.
Fishack was taken to the Court Commissioners and released on his own recognizance.

• On Sept. 7, Fishack was charged with one count each of theft scheme from $10,000 to under $100,000, theft of $10,000 to $100,000 and malicious destruction of property valued at less than $500.

He also was charged with two counts each of theft of $1,000 to under $10,000; and three counts of three counts of theft of less than $1,000.

Police allege Fishack stole 647 pounds of cast aluminum, 389 pounds of stainless steel, 303 pounds of brass and various other items from Maryland Metals from Aug. 6 to Aug. 30.

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