Judge recommends dismissal of MVA clerrk in Carter case

July 09, 1992|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,Staff Writer

An administrative law judge is recommending that the state fire a Motor Vehicle Administration clerk for providing a fraudulent driver's license to Dontay Carter -- the man charged in a February spree of kidnappings, robberies and murder.

The judge found that Peggy J. Johnson, a license renewal clerk at the MVA's Mondawmin branch, disregarded established procedures for issuing duplicate licenses when she provided Carter, an 18-year-old black man with a license in the name of Vitalis V. Pilius, a 37-year-old white man he is accused of killing.

The June 30 ruling by Judge Malcolm N. Stewart came in the form of a recommendation to state Personnel Secretary Hilda E. Ford, who is to make the final decision. Under the state personnel process, once an agency suspends an employee, the employee is entitled to a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Ms. Johnson, of the 6800 block of Park Heights Ave., has been suspended without pay from her job since Feb. 21.

She plans to appeal the judge's recommendation to Ms. Ford, ensuring her another hearing before a personnel officer, her lawyer, M. Gordon Tayback, said yesterday.

"Our contention was that she did not renew the license," but that another clerk did, Mr. Tayback said. "She believes she was unjustly accused and used as a scapegoat for the agency." He said Ms. Johnson's performance during her approximately six years with the agency was "always satisfactory."

Judge Stewart agreed with the state that Ms. Johnson was the employee who issued the license to Carter. The judge also found that she should not have issued the license as a "renewal," since the license Carter presented Feb. 11 had not expired during the three months before or three months after that date -- the time it would have been eligible for renewal.

Instead, it should have been referred to another work station that handles requests for "duplicate" licenses and which requires additional identification and approval by supervisors, he found. The license also should not have been renewed because it was partially burned, and mutilated licenses require the same special attention duplicates do.

The judge questioned how the photo license for a 37-year-old white man with a foreign-sounding name was issued to a black teen-ager. He said the clerk should have questioned that.

In addition, Judge Stewart found that Ms. Johnson's actions had brought the MVA "public disrepute," although Mr. Tayback argued that it was Carter, not his client, who brought the adverse publicity to the agency.

Investigators initially suggested that Carter knew Ms. Johnson and that he paid her to issue the phony license. But a state police investigator testified at the hearing, which concluded June 2, that the two did not know each other and that no money, other than the standard renewal fee, changed hands, Mr. Tayback said.

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