Del. Tony E. Fulton faces a trial on charges of theft and misconduct in office stemming from the illegal use of state funds for his 1990 re-election campaign.
The office of State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli filed the charges yesterday against Fulton, D-City, in a criminal information document in Baltimore Circuit Court.
The most serious charge alleges that Fulton funneled $3,000 in campaign funds to himself, by falsely claiming to have paid $1,000 to three campaign aides. The three aides either did not receive the alleged payments or returned them to Fulton, said Dolores O. Ridgell, a prosecutor in Montanarelli's office.
The criminal information also charges that Fulton used $2,920 in state funds to pay for campaign-related expenses. In particular, the prosecutor charges that Fulton paid a $575 phone bill and $1,500 in rent for his campaign headquarters with state funds. He also used state funds to pay two aides who were actually doing campaign work, the charges state.
Fulton may well claim that the office, in the 2200 block of Madison Ave., was also his legislative office, Ridgell said.
Fulton is to be arraigned Nov. 18.
In his second four-year term in the legislature, Fulton, 39, represents the 40th District in northwest Baltimore. He also served as a legislative aide from 1975 to 1979.
A Baltimore native, Fulton has a bachelor's degree from Morgan State University and a master's degree from the University of Maryland.
Fulton would lose his seat in the General Assembly if he were convicted of the theft or misconduct charges.
Fulton did not return several phone calls yesterday and did not appear at the legislature's special session last night.
Montanarelli began the probe of Fulton after an article about apparent discrepancies in Fulton's campaign committee appeared in The Sun in September 1990, according to Ridgell.
Three other charges involve Fulton's involvement with a second campaign committee, the Committee on Democratic Education. Fulton has claimed that the group was formed to promote political awareness. But the group had close ties to Fulton's own campaign committee and gave far more money to his re-election effort than to any other candidate.
Together, the two committees raised more than $109,000 during the four-year election cycle ending last year, one of the highest totals for a legislative candidate in the state.
In one count, Fulton is charged with making an "in-kind" contribution of $12,000 in rent for CODE at a home he owns in the 2100 block of Bolton St. That payment would violate the law limiting contributions to $5,000.
The charging document also alleges that Fulton spent CODE money but claimed it was money raised by his campaign committee, which would circumvent campaign finance laws.
The special prosecutor's office, which operates independently of other prosecutors in the state, investigates charges of misconduct by state and local officials.