“He scares me. I’m revoking his bond.”
That was Baltimore district court judge Barbara Waxman’s rationale for keeping Rex Petrey, a Marine veteran and former Department of Homeland Security agent, in jail for more than two weeks after he was arrested in Baltimore on April 28 while on his way to work security following the riots there.
The 50-year-old Petrey, who formerly worked as an Air Marshal and left his job at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in March, was in front of Waxman — at least via closed-circuit TV — for a hearing on April 30 for charges of impersonating an officer and illegal possession of a firearm.
The Daily Caller obtained audio of that hearing. In it, Petrey’s court-appointed attorney argues for his release citing his lack of a criminal record and his security role. A prosecutor is heard accusing Petrey — falsely, in retrospect — of “misrepresenting” every aspect of why he was in Baltimore. Waxman sided with the state, saying “I’m sure there’s a third side to this story that I haven’t heard yet. But right now, he scares me. I think he’s a threat to public safety.”
Bang. “No bond.”
After a day of working security at the U.S. Supreme Court, which was hearing the landmark same-sex marriage case, Petrey headed to Baltimore to meet up with members of the Virginia Rapid Emergency Team. The crew had been scrambled together by Pinkerton Security’s Fairfax, Va. office. Petrey and other security team members were to meet up at city hall to provide security for TV news crews. (RELATED: Exclusive: Marine Vet Hired For Riot Security Spends Two Weeks In Baltimore Prison)
But Petrey got lost and, at around 10:30 p.m., decided to approach a group of officers to ask for directions. Unbeknownst to Petrey at the time, he was in violation of the city’s curfew, which had been set at 10 p.m. the night before by Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Police questioned Petrey, and he agreed to allow them to search his Jeep. But as soon as he did, he knew he was in trouble. He had a Glock handgun and ammunition in a backpack inside his vehicle. He had forgotten to leave it at his home in Virginia in his haste to get to Baltimore.
And though Petrey has a Virginia concealed carry license and had just been issued a Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act (LEOSA) card, which allows off-duty and retired law enforcement officers to carry guns in most places, he was technically in violation of Maryland’s strict gun laws.
And so he was charged with having an illegal gun on his person and in his vehicle. Both charges carry a maximum three-year prison sentence. The impersonating an officer charge is still unclear. According to an affidavit, Petrey showed his voided DHS identification card and an officer believed that he was attempting to conceal the document. The charge was later dropped.
Petrey isn’t so much angry about his arrest. He understands that he violated curfew and, in his haste, failed to leave his gun behind or grab his LEOSA card. What does frustrate him is that he was denied bond over it and forced to sit — a former federal law enforcement officer just days after violent rioting had gripped the city — in one of the nation’s most violent jails for 16 days. During that time he missed several job interviews. Even after his release from jail on May 13, jobs he had applied for fell through because of the legal case hanging over his head.
All of that for a guy who says “since he was 18 years old has been busting his ass for his country.”
“A couple of phone calls would have negated all of this,” he told TheDC.
After being booked into jail, Petrey was slapped with a $120,000 preliminary bond. A bail commissioner quickly reviewed Petrey’s case and upped his bond to $200,000. And then Judge Waxman came and removed any hope of early release from jail when she revoked bond altogether.
In Petrey’s bond hearing, his public defender is heard telling Waxman that he had verified that Petrey was hired by Pinkerton Security to work security for news crews the day after the riots in Baltimore. He also states Petrey’s credentials as a former federal law enforcement officer. He argues that Petrey does not pose a threat to public safety and that he should either be released from jail or given a nominal bond.
Waxman did ask Petrey’s attorney, “Does he have a Virginia handgun permit?”
Though Petrey does have a Virginia concealed carry license, his attorney had not asked for that information before the hearing and declined to ask during the proceeding.
The prosecutor then begins to present the state’s side of the case. “Every single thing [Petrey] said was a misrepresentation of the truth,” the prosecutor says.
Waxman sided with the prosecutor and set Petrey’s trial date for May 28. He was released on May 13, a day after Petrey’s private attorney provided a sworn statement showing that he had been hired to work security for Pinkerton. Waxman set his bond at $20,000 with $5,000 secured. That meant Petrey had to pay $500 to get out of jail.
Petrey’s trial date was pushed back to June 16 but then delayed again to July 21. In the meantime, Petrey worked security side jobs while he searched — unsuccessfully — for a full-time gig. He finally got closure on the case on Tuesday when prosecutors dropped the impersonation charge and the gun on person charge. He was given a 30-day probation without judgement sentence. The blemish won’t remain on Petrey’s permanent record nor will it impact his security clearance.
On Thursday, Petrey told TheDC that he was hired by M.J. Madison Security, a high-end security firm which services Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia.
In the days before Petrey’s release from jail, TheDC reached out to both Pinkerton Security and the Maryland district court. Both entities provided false information about their dealings with Petrey.
In the case of Pinkerton, a corporate spokeswoman denied to TheDC in May that the company had contracted in any way with Petrey. Numerous calls and emails placed to Ginger Happe, the manager at the Fairfax Pinkerton branch, were not returned at the time. When TheDC presented evidence to Pinkerton that Petrey had been contacted to work for the security firm in Baltimore and that he had been on the phone with Happe right before his arrest, the company’s corporate spokeswoman responded, “no comment.”
“They basically set me up for failure,” Petrey said of Pinkerton, noting that in a document that the company sent to its security contractors that night, there was no mention of a 10 p.m. curfew.
TheDC was also given misinformation by the Maryland district court. When asked back in May if Waxman ever said in open court that Petrey scared her, a court spokeswoman said that that never happened.
The audio tape clearly shows otherwise.