Attorney: City officials demanded secret settlement
Since taking office in February, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has proclaimed a desire to increase transparency in city government.
But an investigation published in today's Daily Record shows that in one legal case, city officials withheld the name of a man who received a $200,000 settlement, contrary to the man's wishes, according to his attorney.
Yakov Shapiro, a violinist from Germantown, sued the city after he was wrongfully jailed on child molestation charges in 2007. Police had actually meant to arrest Yisrael Shapiro, a Baltimore rabbi.
Steven D. Kupferberg, Yakov Shapiro's attorney, told Daily Record reporter Brendan Kearney that his client never asked for his name to be kept secret. But at the time, city officials -- who did not release the amount of the settlement until prodded by The Sun -- said they would not reveal his name at his request.
Ryan O'Doherty, a spokesman for Rawlings-Blake, told The Sun's Justin Fenton in March that the plaintiff "demanded confidentiality as part of the settlement agreement. Had we not provided that, the cost of the settlement may very well have been higher."
"We've attempted to provide as much transparency as possible within the confines" of the settlement, he said.
City Solicitor George Nilson termed the discrepancy a "he-said, she-said situation."
He also described the officer's error as a rookie mistake, but the Daily Record's story revealed that the officer, a 17-year-veteran, had been on the sex offense squad since 2001. Nilson said the officer was unfamiliar with the task of researching addresses.
“That’s all I knew then and that’s all I know now,” Nilson told the Daily Record.