WASHINGTON- Prince George’s County officials have arrested a Mount Rainier man almost two weeks after he called in sick to his scheduled sentencing for making bomb threats against county schools and racially harassing the system’s superintendent.
Mark Steven Hoffman, 31, was arrested Wednesday after skipping his Jan. 12 sentencing, and is being held without bond at the Prince George’s County Detention Center in Upper Marlboro. His attorney, C. Michael Walls, said sentencing is scheduled for March 8.
Hoffman was supposed to have been sentenced Jan. 12 by Prince George’s Circuit Judge Maureen Lamasney, but he never showed up. Walls said at that hearing Hoffman had left him a message a day earlier complaining of a stomach bug.
Walls could not say Friday whether or not Hoffman was actually ill before his earlier court date, but it was his understanding that his client was being truthful at the time.
“I’m not a doctor, I didn’t go down and take his temperature,” Walls said.
Hoffman was originally arrested in December 1999, on charges that he made a bomb threat — which turned out to be a false threat — directed racially harassing statements to Schools Superintendent Iris T. Metts and possessed child pornography.
Police arrested him at the University of Maryland, College Park, after tracing his threatening e-mails to a computer there. They found the child pornography during a subsequent search of his home.
He pleaded guilty in October to three misdemeanor charges and was expected to receive a year in jail as part of a plea agreement that also included a two- year suspended sentence. He was out on bond at the time of his sentencing.
Court officials said Friday that Hoffman was also charged with school trespassing between the time of his arrest and his guilty plea, but details on that case were not immediately available. It has not yet gone to trial, according to court records.
The prosecutor, David Whitacre, said he will not seek nor does he expect the judge to impose further penalties as a result of Hoffman’s Jan. 12 no-show. He said he does not believe Hoffman was actively avoiding authorities.
“It was only a matter of time” before he was arrested, said Whitacre. “And I’m glad it happened so quickly.”
He said Friday he was not aware of the trespass charges pending against Hoffman.
A Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Department spokesman said Hoffman was arrested at the Mount Rainier Police station and later turned over to the sheriff’s department. The spokesman could not say whether Hoffman had turned himself in, but Walls said he thought his client had done so.
Metts, who now has a schools-funded bodyguard, was not available for comment but her spokesman said she is relieved.
“She’s happy that this whole incident is coming to a close and that some type of disciplinary action is being taken against this individual so that her staff can feel safe,” said Tony Ruffin, the spokesman.