Federal probe into Arundel development renewed

October 14, 1992|By Staff Report

Federal investigators have renewed efforts to scrutinize an upscale development in Anne Arundel County with links to the administration of O. James Lighthizer, the former county executive who now serves as secretary of the state Department Transportation.

Several former Lighthizer administration officials have received subpoenas in recent months requesting documents related to Fishing Creek Farm, an exclusive waterfront project developed by Prince George's County real estate mogul Mark Vogel.

Investigators also have requested additional records from the county, but officials refused to specify what documents were being scrutinized beyond saying that the investigation centered on land acquisition deals.

"I can't tell you what they are looking at," said Dennis Parkinson, chief administrative officer for the county.

"They've been here and they interviewed certain people and have taken some documents," Mr. Parkinson said. "The federal prosecutors have asked that we not publicly talk about the nature of the activity or the individuals involved."

Mr. Parkinson added that the federal agents had been in county offices within the last week.

Fishing Creek Farm was approved for development four years ago in an environmentally sensitive area near Annapolis at a time when the county was operating under interim rules intended to protect its critical shoreline areas.

County officials indicated one year ago that there was a federal investigation into Fishing Creek Farm. Adrian G. Teel, a former county administrator who now heads the Maryland Port Administration, and his wife were among the lot owners.

At that time, federal investigators subpoenaed county documents relating to the development. County attorney Judson P. Garrett Jr. said that no new subpoenas had been issued to the county. Any additional documents that were taken came under the scope of the original subpoena.

Mr. Parkinson and County Controller Walter Chitwood both said the FBI agents have recently searched files in the county Office of Finance. Mr. Chitwood said that he had been interviewed.

None of the inquiries have centered on the current administration of Robert R. Neall, Mr. Parkinson said. Mr. Neall has not been interviewed by the federal agents.

Mr. Lighthizer said he is cooperating fully with federal authorities and has been assured that neither he nor Mr. Teel is the target of the probe.

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