Staubitz on trial, charged with State Games misconduct

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 were expected to testify in a trial beginning 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 to dissuade young people from using drugs. But the state closed the office after disclosures of improprieties in late 1990. Criminal charges followed. The State Games 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 court documents say his relatives will testify they had nothing to do with the business and that they signed 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 stick sales reached nearly $40,000, 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 court 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, the documents state.

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 to helping 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 they will tell the court about his cooperation but 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.

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.

Investigating 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 Narron's wife, Valerie Narron.

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