Grand jury to probe Talbot sheriff

January 07, 1993|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Staff Writer

EASTON -- A special grand jury is scheduled to convene here tomorrow to hear allegations of misuse of funds and professional misconduct against Talbot County Sheriff John J. Ellerbusch Jr.

Sheriff Ellerbusch, who is serving his second four-year term, has been the target of a two-month investigation by the state prosecutor's office.

James I. Cabezas, the head of the investigative unit in the prosecutor's office, confirmed yesterday that a grand jury had been called to hear evidence against Sheriff Ellerbusch.

Sources close to the investigation said Sheriff Ellerbusch is suspected of misusing some of the funds distributed to his department by federal officials following the conviction of Sandra Filbert Amos, an heiress and former Talbot County resident who was arrested in 1989 for conspiring to distribute cocaine.

Authorities seized and sold Ms. Amos' waterfront estate and two cars under a federal law that allows the takeover of property used to facilitate drug trafficking. The Talbot County Sheriff's Department received nearly $110,000 after the property was auctioned off.

Sources said investigators also were looking into an arrangement between Sheriff Ellerbusch and Jack Dell, an entrepreneur from New Jersey. Mr. Dell hired the sheriff and some of his deputies to work on his Talbot County estate and contributed more than $50,000 to a fund set up by the sheriff to supplement his department's $323,000 budget.

The state prosecutor was said to have begun the investigation with questions about Sheriff Ellerbusch's handling of slot machine revenue given to his office by local clubs as charitable contributions. But, sources said, the investigation turned as newer allegations surfaced.

Sheriff Ellerbusch, 36, acknowledged yesterday that he was alerted to the scheduled meeting of the grand jury.

"I'm worried and upset because I don't know where [the state prosecutor] is coming from."

The sheriff said he and some deputies accepted a job offer to cut grass on Mr. Dell's Choptank River property, but he said the work was done on their own time.

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