Sniper investigation chief resigns post
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose, the lead investigator of last fall's D.C.-area sniper attacks, is resigning his post over the flap his book on the three-week ordeal has caused, officials said Wednesday.
Moose will officially leave his position June 28.
Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan, the highest ranking political official of the county, said he had dinner with Moose at a restaurant in Rockville, Maryland, Monday. During that dinner conversation, Moose "informed me that he was going to be resigning," said Duncan.
"It's a sad day for me. I'm going to miss him quite a bit," Duncan told reporters.
Duncan called Moose an "extraordinary police chief" who has served the county well over the last four years. With the resignation, Duncan said, "any cloud that may have been hanging" over Moose because of the book deal should be cleared.
"This lets him now get on with a new chapter in his life," said Duncan.
Moose gained national attention after heading the investigation into the D.C.-area sniper shootings last October, and signed a lucrative contract with E.P. Dutton books of New York to write about his experience. He also has been signed as a consultant to a movie about the sniper manhunt.
But a county ethics commission ruled Moose could not profit from the ordeal -- a ruling the police chief appealed.
"He came to the decision that with the ethics commission ruling and with the amount of time it was taking through the legal decision, he had to make a decision for one or the other," Duncan said.
"He chose to move forward with the opportunity of writing the book. I have felt all along that he should write this book," said Duncan. "I think it is a great story to be told -- not just for Chief Moose personally, but for law enforcement across this country and for Montgomery County in particular."
Duncan lashed out at the ethics committee for forcing Moose into such a decision. "The ethics commission should have granted the waiver," he said.
The 336-page book, titled "Three Weeks in October," is to hit book stores this October, a year after the sniper attacks. The book is already up for pre-sale orders on Amazon.com for a discounted rate of $16.77. Its list price is $23.95.
Moose is currently serving active duty with a military police unit of the D.C. Air National Guard.
Bill O'Toole, who has served as the acting chief during Moose's hiatus, will remain the acting chief until a new chief is hired, said Duncan.
In appealing the commission's decision, Jamin Raskin, a member of Moose's legal team, said, "If hitmen for the mob and mass murderers have a First Amendment right to write and publish books about crime, why don't police chiefs?"
Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Muhammad are charged in the series of sniper attacks last fall that killed 10 people and wounded four in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Investigators also have linked the pair to slayings in Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Washington state.
Muhammad is scheduled to stand trial for the October 9, 2002, slaying of Dean Harold Meyers at a Sunoco gas station in Manassas, Virginia. Malvo is to be tried for the October 14, 2002 shooting death of Linda Franklin outside a Home Depot in Falls Church, Virginia.
Duncan denied that the book would exploit the tragedy or harm the prosecution's case.
"Chief Moose has said time and time again that he would not do anything that would jeopardize the prosecution or in any way interfere with the prosecution," said Duncan. "He wants them brought to justice as much as anyone else."