State Games on trial: Forgery alleged One official pleads guilty

trial of another begins today

May 27, 1992|By Eileen Canzian | Eileen Canzian,Staff Writer

Two years ago, John M. Staubitz Jr. persuaded lawmakers to preserve his Maryland State Games program by showing them letters of support from the head of the U.S. Olympic Committee and other sports officials.

Those letters were forged by Mr. Staubitz and his staff, witnesses are expected to testify in a trial that begins today.

The first details of the state's case against Mr. Staubitz, the former deputy health secretary charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in office, were disclosed in documents filed yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court.

They were part of a statement of facts in a guilty plea entered yesterday by James E. Narron, the former State Games director. Narron pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit

misconduct.

The State Games office was an arm of the health department charged with promoting amateur athletics, ostensibly to dissuade young people from using drugs. But the state closed the office after disclosures of improprieties in late 1990, and criminal charges followed. The State Games themselves continue as a scaled-down amateur athletic competition.

The documents filed by the Maryland attorney general's office contain allegations of impropriety that go beyond those described by legislative auditors and newspaper accounts when the State Games scandal first rocked Annapolis. Among them:

*Mr. Staubitz allegedly set up a company to buy sweat suits and other goods, then sold those goods to the State Games program at a profit and without competitive bidding -- while concealing his role in the firm.

The company, East West Promotions, was purportedly run by Mr. Staubitz's sister and mother. But the court documents say his relatives will testify that they had nothing to do with the business and that they signed various papers only at Mr. Staubitz's direction.

*The State Games program purchased thousands of dollars' worth of "glow sticks" and sold the toys in Ocean City and at the Maryland State Fair, supposedly to raise money for the program. Although investigators found that nearly $40,000 of the sticks were sold, only $10,000 was deposited in a State Games bank account.

Former employees of the program will testify that after selling the glow sticks, they delivered the proceeds in cash to Mr. Staubitz, the documents state.

*Mr. Staubitz allegedly used $5,000 in State Games money to rent an Ocean City condominium and told legislative auditors it was used by program staffers who worked there. Those staff members will testify, however, that the condominium actually was used by Mr. Staubitz, "a female friend" and some of his relatives.

When the auditors began asking questions about the condominium, Narron forged a record for the office files in an attempt to support Mr. Staubitz's false explanation, the documents state.

The documents were placed in the court record yesterday as Narron pleaded guilty in connection with his role in the scandal. Narron admitted helping to establish and run East West Promotions, preparing some of the allegedly forged letters that were shown to legislators, and attempting to impede the legislative audit.

Narron has been cooperating with the attorney general and is scheduled to testify against Mr. Staubitz, his former boss. In return for Narron's plea, prosecutors said that they will tell the court about his cooperation but that they will make no sentencing recommendation.

Narron is scheduled to be sentenced July 28 by Judge Andre M. Davis, the same judge who will try Mr. Staubitz starting today.

Mr. Staubitz has pleaded not guilty, and his attorney, M. Albert Figinski, said last week that his client would wage a "vigorous" defense. "John Staubitz has been made a scapegoat for something that either was not a crime, or if it was a crime, involves many more [people] than just he," Mr. Figinski said.

In their investigation, auditors found that program officials used government funds for a host of "questionable, extravagant and unsubstantiated expenses," including trips to Europe and the establishment of a fencing academy that immediately hired by his wife, Valerie Narron.

An investigation by The Sun revealed other questionable expenditures, including $4,500 in government drug-abuse-prevention money to hire a band for a party for the governor's staff.

Mr. Staubitz, 43, and Narron, 37, were fired in December 1990 when the health secretary, Adele A. Wilzack, was informed of the auditors' findings.

Ms. Wilzack said that she was misled by the two men and that she knew nothing of the improprieties. But under pressure from legislators who argued that she should have known, Ms. Wilzack resigned in February 1991.

HIGHLIGHTS

According to documents filed yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court, witnesses will testify that:

* While deputy health secretary, John M. Staubitz Jr. set up a company to purchase athletic clothing, then sold the clothing to the state at a profit while concealing his role in the firm.

* The Maryland State Games program run by Mr. Staubitz purchased nearly $40,000 worth of "glow sticks" and sold the toys, supposedly to raise money for the program. But only $10,000 in proceeds was deposited in a State Games bank account.

* Mr. Staubitz allegedly used $5,000 in State Games money to rent an Ocean City condominium for personal use.

* Mr. Staubitz and James E. Narron, the former State Games director, fabricated letters and other records in an attempt to mislead legislators and government investigators.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.