Trending
Calendar
 
CP on Facebook

 

CP on Twitter
Print Email

Mobtown Beat

Baltimore County Drops Charges Against Would-Be Cockeysville Railroader

Typically, criminal defendants whose charges are dropped would be happy with the outcome, but not James Riffin. “I wanted a trial,” Riffin says of the Baltimore County case against him, charging him with, among other crimes, polluting Loch Raven Reservoir, malicious property destruction, abandoning a vehicle, and stealing dirt (“Down by Law,” Mobtown Beat, Sept. 11).

Prosecutors “absolutely did not want to try to case,” Riffin explains, and on Nov. 20, they formally “nol prossed” the charges, depriving Riffin of the opportunity to put on evidence of his innocence. “They knew they were going to lose,” Riffin says.

The charges, filed in June, stemmed from Riffin’s activities at his former distillery complex in Cockeysville, where he has long aspired to base his still-unrealized railroading operation (“Train Wreck,” Feature, Oct. 10, 2007). Riffin says his efforts to comply with a civil-court order that he remove dirt, rocks, and equipment he’d placed on the property over the years, as he’d attempted to establish his railroading operations, prompted the criminal charges. He was prepared to mount a rigorous defense, he says, using a surveyor and a title lawyer to show that all the activities occurred on his own property, not his neighbor’s—the City of Baltimore, which owns land adjacent to Riffin’s that is part of its water-quality management area for the reservoir.

Flowing next to Riffin’s property is Beaver Dam Run, a reservoir tributary, and Riffin’s stewardship of the property—which he contends is subject only to federal railroading laws and is therefore exempt from state and local environmental ordinances—has long made him a target of regulatory enforcement. One of his many legal tussles with the authorities landed him, briefly, in 2008, in the clink for contempt of court (“Whistle Stop,” Mobtown Beat, July 2, 2008).

  • The District Score How legislators in Baltimore City’s six districts fared in Annapolis this election year | 4/23/2014
  • General Assembly 2014 Winners and Losers Taking stock of the session that just ended | 4/16/2014
  • Show us your licensing Following controversial case, new policy requires liquor board to make more decisions public | 4/16/2014
  • Who Do We Love? Maryland gives tax breaks to lots of businesses, not just Kevin Spacey’s | 4/9/2014
  • Sale On Baltimore is about to sell off its public housing. Someone is going to make money—and that’s the plan. | 4/2/2014
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus