Criminal charge filed against Frederick County department head accused of vandalizing subordinate’s vehicle

August 5—A Frederick County department director accused of vandalizing his then-subordinate’s car while it sat in a downtown Frederick parking garage has been criminally charged with a misdemeanor.

Gary Hessong, director of the county’s Department of Permits and Inspections, was caught on video behind his former employee’s truck at the same time the vehicle is thought to have been damaged, according to a Frederick Police Department report.

The incident occurred April 5, one day after James “Bob” Ensor announced that he would be taking a new job within the county’s Division of Public Works and provided his three weeks of notice.

Frederick police on July 27 charged Hessong with misdemeanor malicious destruction of property for damages totaling less than $1,000, court documents show.

Ensor said he paid about $5,000 to repair his truck and asked that Hessong reimburse him that amount.

He paid $2,400 for a patch job and new paint, $406 to replace chrome rocker panels, $1,700 for a rental car for 11 days (including $324 for insurance) and $402 for a transfer pump for fuel off-loading after his truck bed was removed to complete the repairs, four different receipts from June show.

The District Court for Frederick County has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 22. Hessong could face up to 60 days in jail and/or a $500 fine, according to charging documents.

When the News-Post called Hessong for comment, he declined to comment.

Hessong, who also has been deputy director for the Division of Planning and Permitting since 2015, initially denied damaging Ensor’s vehicle, a red 2016 Ford F-350, according to a police report filed April 12, but he later agreed to reimburse Ensor for the damages.

Ensor told the police that he would not prosecute if Hessong paid him.

Alan Winik, who in the police report identifies himself as Hessong’s attorney, called the police on April 7 and said that Hessong wished to pay for the damages. Winik asked that Ensor contact him directly to sort out the payment.

Winik wrote in an email to the News-Post on Friday that he would not comment on a pending criminal case.

William Cockey, spokesman for the State’s Attorney’s Office, wrote in an email to the News-Post on Friday that the State’s Attorney’s Office would not comment on a pending case either.

Ensor requested on July 15 that Hessong reimburse him. But Ensor said in an interview on Friday that he had not received payment from Hessong and that he had not spoken to Hessong since the incident.

Hessong’s immediate boss, Division of Planning and Permitting Director Steve Horn, could not immediately be reached for comment by phone or email on Friday.

County Executive Jan Gardner wrote in an email to the News-Post on Friday that personnel issues are confidential, and she declined to comment on any discipline Hessong may have received.

Ensor, 60, said he thinks Hessong, 57, may have damaged his truck to retaliate for his decision to leave the department.

He told Frederick police in April that he had parked his truck in the Church Street Parking Garage, near the first-floor exit, on the morning of April 5.

After discovering a foot-long, deep scrape in the paint on his rear driver-side door that evening, he returned to the garage and asked a parking attendant to view video footage from the previous day. The attendant, he said, told him that he could not see footage, and that he would have to file a police report.

On April 7, Ensor contacted the police to tell them that someone had damaged his truck while it was parked in the garage.

Video from the parking garage showed that “an older white male,” whom police later identified as Hessong, approached Ensor’s truck at 7:53 am on April 5, according to the police report.

The video showed that Hessong turned when he reached Ensor’s truck. He walked between the truck and a vehicle parked next to it, towards the rear door that Ensor later found damaged.

He bent over slightly for “a moment” before walking out from between the vehicles, and he appeared to be holding a “small object” in his hand, the police report states.

After viewing the camera footage, the responding officer contacted Ensor and showed him a photo of the “older white male,” but Ensor did not immediately recognize him, the report states.

Winchester Hall’s security director later contacted the officer to identify the man as Hessong, who arrived at the county building shortly after leaving the parking deck, wearing the same clothing as the man in the video.

When the officer contacted Hessong to ask about the incident, Hessong denied damaging the truck and said he had walked up to it to inspect the damage, which he had seen while passing by.

Police said to Hessong that everything was captured on video and that he was the only person seen approaching the truck while it was parked in the deck that day.

Before the Frederick County government hired Hessong in 2003, then-Frederick Mayor Jennifer Dougherty fired him in 2002 from his position as the city’s permits and code management director because of “serious philosophical differences,” according to a 2002 report from the News-Post.

His firing came one week after Dougherty blasted his department for “lax enforcement of city code, failed blight abatement efforts and undermining the work of aggressive code inspections,” the News-Post reported.

Follow Jack Hogan on Twitter: @jckhogan

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