FBI now probing State Games FBI probers wary of misuse of drug funds.

March 29, 1991|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Evening Sun Staff

Concerned about the possible misuse of federal drug funds, the FBI has launched its own investigation of the discredited Maryland State Games program, according to sources.

In particular, federal investigators are looking to see if any federal drug-grant money was misspent by the State Games program, sources said.

The federal investigation comes in the midst of a similar probe of the program by the criminal division of the state attorney general's office.

As the State Games scandal unfolded between December and February, the two top officials of the state health department, as well as the leader of the games, lost their jobs. The State Games program, designed to encourage young people to participate in athletics rather than using drugs, has since been abolished.

It is not clear how much progress the federal investigators have made. Officials in both the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office declined to confirm or deny an investigation.

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. said yesterday his department was still weeks or months away from bringing charges against anybody involved in the State Games program.

The State Games program operated an annual amateur athletics competition in Maryland and also led the state's unsuccessful effort to bring an Olympic Festival here.

State investigators and press reports have already disclosed several instances of alleged financial impropriety, cronyism and other problems in the State Games program. The problems occurred both within a small unit of the health department that oversaw the games and the private State Games foundation, which received state and federal money to promote amateur athletic events in the state.

James E. Narron, the former director of the program, was forced to resign last December, along with John M. Staubitz, the former deputy director of the health department. Adele A. Wilzack resigned as departmental secretary last month, after a barrage of criticism from legislators and editorial writers.

The State Games program spent money nominally slated for anti-drug programs on a variety of unlikely items, including an Ocean City condominium and a band for a party for State Games workers hosted by Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

The health department spent a total of about $1.2 million on the State Games program. Much of that was grant money from the federal government.

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