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Jury convicts District Heights mayor of misconduct

A Prince George’s County Circuit Court jury this week found District Heights Mayor Eddie L. Martin guilty of misconduct in office for using city letterhead to buy fireworks on behalf of a friend.

Martin, who is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 10, said Wednesday that he will appeal the conviction, will meet with the city’s commissioners and does not plan to step down as mayor while his appeal is pending.

“An appeal is in process,” said Martin, who was elected mayor in May 2018 after serving as a commissioner for 14 years.

The penalty for official misconduct is at the judge’s broad discretion, as the common-law misdemeanor is punishable by any potential sentence that is not cruel and unusual.

Martin, then a city commissioner, signed a letter on District Heights stationery on June 8, 2017, authorizing the purchase of $50,000 in fireworks from Wayne’s World Fireworks. Martin represented that the fireworks would be used by the city, which is permitted to purchase the otherwise prohibited Class B and Class C fireworks, the Office of Maryland State Prosecutor charged.

The fireworks purchased were actually bought by a friend of Martin’s, the office added.

Acting State Prosecutor Kelly B. Madigan oversaw Martin’s prosecution and conviction after a two-day trial, presided over by Judge Tiffany H. Anderson.

Then-State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt brought the single misconduct in office charge against Martin in June.

“Public officials cannot use their position to evade safety regulations for the personal benefit of their friends,” Davitt, who retired in July, said in a statement in June. “Our elected officials must be held responsible for improperly representing personal interests as the interests of the people that they are supposed to represent.”

The case is State v. Eddie L. Martin, CT190627X.

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