A top aide in the Baltimore public school system has been placed on administrative leave after being indicted in Cleveland for allegedly receiving federal grant money in the early 1980s for work he had already been paid to perform.
Robert L. Clinkscale, 58, an assistant superintendent responsible for vocational and adult education, was indicted May 10 by the Cuyahoga County grand jury on one count each of theft in office and receiving improper compensation.
He pleaded innocent to the felony charges on May 16.
The charges were leveled in connection with a Cleveland business partnership that in 1983 and 1984 used federal housing-renovation money to convert two surplus school buildings into apartments for the elderly or disabled.
Yesterday, Mr. Clinkscale said he was innocent of any wrongdoing. He said he bought tools and books for students involved in the renovations but never took money for himself.
"I had a legitimate construction company," Mr. Clinkscale said. "I didn't make anything. In fact, I lost on the deal."
He said that investigators in Cleveland had never bothered to question him and that he learned of his indictment through a friend's telephone call.
"The only way I knew I had been indicted was I got a call from my barber who said, 'You need a lawyer,' " Mr. Clinkscale said.
Mr. Clinkscale joined the Baltimore school system in July 1989, after leaving Cleveland in 1987 and working a year for the Maryland Department of Education.
Investors in the business partnership in question included then-City Councilman Michael R. White, who is now Cleveland's mayor. Mr. White, who testified for six hours before the grand jury during the six-month investigation, was not indicted.
Mr. Clinkscale, who supervised a job-training program for Cleveland students in 1983 and 1984, allegedly received money from a job-training grant for duties included in his school board job description.