State prosecutor may lose a third of his budget 4 positions would be cut under House panel's proposal.

March 17, 1992|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,Annapolis Bureau

ANNAPOLIS -- State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli survived a legislator's attempt to end the independence of his office, but he now faces the possible loss of one-third of his office's funding.

A House of Delegates Appropriations subcommittee has recommended that the state prosecutor's budget be cut from $744,000 to $509,000 and the office lose four of 11 positions.

The full committee will take up the recommendation before submitting its version of the budget to the entire House. The House and Senate are expected to agree on a budget in the next two weeks.

Subcommittee members argued that Mr. Montanarelli has expanded the scope of his office, which was created in the 1970s as an independent agency to investigate wrongdoing by elected officials. Several delegates complained about investigations Mr. Montanarelli pursued involving non-elected or minor officials, as well as lengthy probes that did not result in any charges.

Mr. Montanarelli denied he was trying to reach beyond his stated duties.

The prosecutor managed to fend off an attempt to merge his office into the attorney general's office and end its political independence. The House Judiciary Committee on Friday killed that bill, which Mr. Montanarelli contended was introduced as political retaliation for his role in the prosecution of former Baltimore County councilman Gary Huddles.

Del. Richard Rynd, a Baltimore County Democrat and longtime friend of Mr. Huddles, said he proposed the bill as a cost-saving measure. Mr. Rynd said his bill was not linked to the prosecution of Mr. Huddles.

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