The Baltimore Sun reports that Robert Ballinger received three years probation in federal court today. He was also sentenced to 200 hours of community service. Ballinger previously pleaded guilty to impersonating a federal agent. Reports he “impersonated” White House military staff stemmed from him wearing a lapel pin to get into an inaugural event in DC.
Ballinger, who was an official in the administrations of both Gov. Bob Ehrlich and Gov. Martin O’Malley, was charged with impersonating a Secret Service agent at a bank in Howard County earlier this year. Ballinger used a Secret Service badge to convince bank officials to let him cash a $300 check drawn on his father’s account.
Initially it was reported that Ballinger was a congressional staffer in the office of Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, but he was actually an unpaid intern. Additionally, Ballinger had claimed to be a top official in both the Maryland Republican Party and the Ehrlich campaign in 2010. I was the first to report that he was not on the Ehrlich campaign staff and I also speculated he had exaggerated about the Republican party role.
The Sun article confirms my initial speculation about Ballinger’s role in the GOP:
Ballinger also lists himself as “Director of Opposition Research and Communications” for the Maryland Republican Party, but Joe Cluster, the party executive director, said Ballinger volunteered for the party a few years ago and never held that high a post.
The article also reports that federal prosecutors requested that Ballinger be given three months of home detention.
More from the Baltimore Sun article:
I’ve made a big mistake in my life,” said Ballinger, a former spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment who ran for school board in 2004, 2010 and 2012, advancing to the general election on his last two runs. He said he had “shamed” himself and his family, and “destroyed my career” in an attempt to cash a check using a Secret Service badge that he bought on eBay.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark W. Crooks called this “a sad case, for lack of a better word.” He argued that Ballinger be sentenced to three months of home confinement.
Arguing for probation, Ballinger’s lawyer, Leslie A. Stein, agreed with Crooks’ characterization.
“He is in every sense of the word a decent, decent man” Stein said of Ballinger, who has no prior criminal record. He said Ballinger is being treated with medication for bipolar disorder and suggested his condition may have affected his judgment.
After the 45-minute proceeding, Stein said, “I think the judge showed compassion, balance and judgment.”
Van Smith of the Baltimore City Paper was the first to report on Ballinger’s charges and has done an excellent job covering the court proceedings. Today’s article was the first mention of the whole situation that I’ve seen in The Sun.