Montgomery County Police Officer Not Guilty Of Perjury

7:34 PM, Jun 11, 2010   |    comments
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ROCKVILLE, Md. (WUSA) -- A jury has found Montgomery County Police Officer Dina Hoffman, 26, not guilty of lying under oath.

Officer Hoffman arrested George Zaliev on a drunk driving charge on May 3, 2008. She later testified that she found Zaliev behind the wheel of his car.

But security camera video suggested otherwise. It showed Hoffman approach the car from the passenger side -- to find Zaliev in the back seat. That was enough for a judge to dismiss the case against Zaliev. Hoffman was then charged with perjury.

"I'm glad the jury put so much time into it and took the job seriously," Hoffman said Friday after the verdict. She said she plans to return to her job.

"It's my job, I've never wanted to do anything else," she said.

She added that the hardest part of the trial was reading the media stories on her case and not being able to tell her side of the story.

"It was a mistake, it was a false memory of the event based on inaccurate and erroneous reporting, not done by her," said Hoffman's defense attorney Paul Stein.  

The prosecution lawyers, Jennifer Ritter and Brian Furlong of Howard County, had no comment.

Judge Michael Mason's Circuit Court jury of 12 members deliberated part of Thursday and the full day Friday. Toward the end of the hearing, the jury asked the judge about more definitions on "beyond a reasonable doubt, preponderance, beyond a reasonable doubt."

The judge replied the jury had been given all resources available in order to reach a verdict. Just before 6:30, the jury declared "not guilty."

Hoffman's husband, sister and mother were present. The family exchanged emotional hugs after the verdict was announced.

"I just knew she was innocent from Day 1," said mom Pauline Hoffman.



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