Talbot Co. sheriff indicted on theft, perjury charges

January 15, 1993|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Staff Writer

EASTON -- A Talbot County grand jury indicted Sheriff John J. Ellerbusch Jr. on four counts of theft, misconduct and perjury yesterday after an investigation by the state prosecutor, who said his office found evidence that he stole more than $71,000 from the department.

The indictment followed a four-month probe of Sheriff Ellerbusch that was sparked by a complaint to state investigators, said State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli.

Mr. Montanarelli declined to provide details of the indictment, but sources close to the investigation said Sheriff Ellerbusch is accused of stealing some of the money distributed to his department by federal officials after the conviction of Sandra Filbert Amos, an heiress and former Talbot County resident who was arrested in 1989 for conspiring to distribute cocaine.

After federal officials seized and sold Ms. Amos' waterfront property and two cars, the Talbot County Sheriff's Department received nearly $110,000 for its part in assisting in the woman's arrest.

Investigators also looked into a relationship the sheriff developed with businessman John E. Dell. Mr. Dell, who owns a waterfront estate in Talbot County on the Choptank River, contributed more than $50,000 to a special fund set up by Sheriff Ellerbusch to supplement his department's $323,000 annual budget.

The sheriff has said the fund, which he named after himself, was used to promote drug education among Talbot County children.

In a previous interview, Sheriff Ellerbusch also said Mr. Dell hired him and some of his deputies to do yardwork on his estate. All of the work was done on their own time, Mr. Ellerbusch said.

The sheriff, who faces 35 years in prison and $1,000 in fines if convicted on all four counts, spent yesterday pacing the floor in his office. Upon hearing of his indictment, he left the department.

Later, appearing upset because news releases about the criminal charges were available before he had been served a criminal summons, Sheriff Ellerbusch said, "I don't know what to say until I see the charging documents. At this point, I have no intention of resigning."

George J. Goldsborough Jr., his lawyer, said yesterday he would wait until he had seen the indictment before commenting.

But when told that two counts charged his client with perjury for filing false income tax returns, he said, "That's going to prove to be patently ridiculous."

The sheriff is alleged to have stolen the funds between Aug. 15, 1988, and Sept. 21, 1992, and to have filed false income tax returns in 1991 and 1992.

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