Worker detailing scheme at MVA Probe centers on Mondawmin branch of MVA.

February 25, 1992|By Roger Twigg and Joe Nawrozki | Roger Twigg and Joe Nawrozki,Staff Writers

The MVA employee accused of passing two fraudulent state driver's licenses to the 18-year-old suspect in a murder and abduction spree is under protective police custody after being granted immunity from prosecution, according to a police source.

In turn, the employee has started to detail a more widespread scheme to provide illegal documents like driver's licenses and Motor Vehicle Administration identification cards, said the source, who is close to the investigation and has requested anonymity.

The employee's information concerns activity at the MVA branch at Mondawmin in northwest Baltimore, where she had apparently provided two fake driver's licenses to Dontay Carter, who is charged with murder, attempted murder and three kidnappings from parking garages in Baltimore.

Last week, another source told The Sun that Mr. Carter had concocted the idea for the deadly crime spree while finishing a three-year prison term at the Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown.

The employee, who is under police guard and talking with authorities, is described as a friend of Mr. Carter's.

Meanwhile, the administrator of the Motor Vehicle Administration said he will transfer MVA workers to other nearby offices and intensify document-fraud training for those responsible for issuing licenses in some Baltimore and Washington-area branches.

The moves are scheduled to begin in about a week, said W. Marshall Rickert, the MVA head.

Mr. Rickert said he will initiate a "cross-training program" in which MVA employees are assigned to work at other branches.

During that time, he said, there will be a special emphasis to strengthen document-fraud training, which in the past has been provided by law enforcement agencies, the Social Security Administration, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Secret Service.

"The move is not meant to convey any particular message," he said.

"This kind of training is conducted routinely."

The branches most likely to be affected initially are those at Mondawmin, Bel Air, Glen Burnie and possibly Essex.

The branches in the Washington area include Waldorf, Largo, Gaithersburg and Frederick, Mr. Rickert said.

"If someone administers a driving test, say in Glen Burnie, they might wind up doing it at some other location that is within an easy commute for them," Mr. Rickert said.

He did not say how long the cross-training program would remain in place or how many people it would affect.

Today, Mr. Rickert was to meet with employees at the agency's Mondawmin branch in an attempt to boost sagging morale following the worker's suspension.

"It was a productive and beneficial meeting," Mr. Rickert said. "They understood my plans and accepted them. Everybody supports me.

"Many there feel they have suffered an unwarranted blow to their reputations," said Mr. Rickert, who said he was to meet with about 70 workers.

"I want to let them know I have lots of compassion for them.

"I discussed many issues and I wanted to make sure we all are singing from the same hymnal."

"There's a lot of anger at Mondawmin, that's for sure," one MVA source said yesterday.

"They feel they've been blasted by the press and they feel like they've been thrown in with the whole Dontay Carter mess."

The employee -- whose identity is being withheld from publication because she has not been criminally charged -- was suspended Friday afternoon pending a move to have her fired, Mr. Rickert said.

The employee is permitted to challenge the action by MVA officials or accept it within the guidelines of state personnel procedures.

Mr. Rickert said the MVA's internal investigation essentially has been completed.

Mr. Carter, 18, is charged in the Feb. 11 murder of Vitalis V. Pilius, 37, of Catonsville.

Mr. Carter also is charged in the Feb. 7 kidnapping and attempted murder of Dr. Daniel Ford, 34, a Johns Hopkins Hospital physician.

Dr. Ford was left for dead in the trunk of his car while Mr. Carter allegedly went to the MVA office at Mondawmin several times to procure a counterfeit driver's license with his picture and the physician's personal information on the license.

The third victim allegedly abducted by Mr. Carter Feb. 14, Douglas Legenhausen, 46, escaped from the trunk of his car, and Mr. Carter was subsequently arrested.

After the abductions of Mr. Pilius and Dr. Ford, Mr. Carter allegedly used their credit cards and spent nearly $10,000 on hotel rooms, clothes, mopeds and other items, a source close to the criminal investigation said.

In each of the cases, it is believed that Mr. Carter used the phony driver's licenses as backups for the credit cards, according to the source.

Late last week, an angry Gov. William Donald Schaefer directed Bishop L. Robinson, secretary of public safety and correctional services, and O. James Lighthizer, secretary of transportation, to personally direct investigations into how Mr. Carter had so easily obtained fraudulent driver's licenses and how state police twice let him slip through their grasp.

Leonard A. Sipes, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said yesterday that the State Police were investigating how Mr. Carter managed to talk his way out of two confrontations with state troopers.

Mr. Sipes said the agency's Internal Affairs Unit is directing the probe because "the case involves actions by employees, nothing criminal."

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