The president of the Maryland Minority Contractors Association was released on $2,500 bail after being charged with theft for allegedly attempting to remove an estimated $15,000 worth of carpet from a city-owned building that his group once tried to develop.
Arnold M. Jolivet, a critic of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's minority business policies, was arrested Monday afternoon when police responded to a break-in report at an abandoned school system building at 110 E. 23rd St.
When police arrived, they found Jolivet and two other men attempting to remove carpet from the building, according to a police report. Jolivet claims that he bought the carpet and had stored it in the building when it still appeared that his group would renovate the structure.
"You can't steal anything that already belongs to you," Jolivet said. "I didn't have the bill of sale with me."
Jolivet told the arresting officer that David Elam, an official of the Department of Housing and Community Development, had approved the removal of the carpet, according to the police report. HCD is responsible for surplus city buildings.
Police called HCD for confirmation but learned that Jolivet was not authorized to remove the carpet, the police report said.
As a result, Jolivet, who said he had a key to enter the building, was arrested and charged with breaking and entering, theft and conspiracy. Also arrested were Carl Chandler, 31, of the 2200 block of W. Fayette St., and John Blackwell, 34, of the 2300 block of W. Fayette St. Jolivet said Chandler and Blackwell were his employees.
"I was told that my name was used. I have not talked to Jolivet about this building. I had no discussion with him whatsoever," Elam said following Jolivet's arrest.
Jolivet's group once held development rights to the building where he was arrested. But it forfeited those rights in 1988 after it failed to pull together a development plan and financing for a minority businesses center it planned for the site, said Bill Toohey, an HCD spokesman.
Jolivet sued the city after the deal fell apart, but the legal action apparently was unsuccessful, Toohey said.
Last July, the city gave development rights to the structure to a group that wants to build a center to provide office space and support facilities for businesses owned by women.
The center is to be completed by sometime next year, said Leslie Rock, the project's lead developer.
Jolivet faces trial Dec. 23, police said.