ROCKLAND, Maine — A criminal charge against a Rockland woman who works as the records officer at the Knox County Jail was dropped Monday in exchange for the officer taking an ethics course.
Her husband, a former bail commissioner, agreed to plead to a different charge which the judge questioned before accepting the arrangement.
The case of Cheryl Daniello, 48, and David Daniello, 39, centered on a drawing done by their daughter. The Daniellos were accused of removing the drawing from a Rockport school guidance counselor’s office in March 2011 despite being told it could not be removed.
The District Attorney’s Office agreed to drop the charge against Cheryl Daniello with the stipulation that she complete a law enforcement ethics course and perform 20 hours of community service.
The drawing was found in her purse after police obtained a search warrant and went to the Daniellos’ home.
The police affidavit filed to obtain the search warrant has been sealed by order of the court. Assistant District Attorney Deborah Cashman said there was evidence that the couple was told not to remove the drawing which involved a separate investigation. No more information was provided about the separate case.
Cashman referred questions about the Daniellos’ case and the separate case to Assistant District Attorney Patricia Mador. Mador did not return messages left for her Monday.
Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison said last week that the charge did not involve Cheryl Daniello’s job as a records officer for the jail and that Daniello continues to work for the county.
Last August, the jail administrator issued Cheryl Daniello a written warning for waiting two days before informing him that she had been issued a criminal summons. The warning noted that until the criminal charge was resolved, the matter would remain open in terms of administrative action.
Dennison said David Daniello had worked as a bail commissioner in the past but has not for some time.
David Daniello pleaded guilty to the falsifying physical evidence charge but if he abides to terms of a deferred disposition for the next six months, that charge will be dropped and he will be found guilty of disorderly conduct and fined $250.
Justice Jeffrey Hjelm questioned how the allegations of removing evidence in an investigation fit into a disorderly conduct charge.
“It’s almost like a random charge,” the judge said.
Defense attorney Eric “Rock” Morse said that this was a compromise agreement. He argued that there was no misconduct by the couple but that they simply did not realize that they were not supposed to have taken the drawing. He noted if there had been any intent of misconduct they would have gotten rid of the drawing but the couple did not do that.
He said David Daniello’s job takes him over the Canadian border on a regular basis and that a conviction on the original charge of falsifying evidence would have prevented him from crossing the border.
“He had a tremendous amount to lose,” Morse said of going to trial.