3 comptroller's checks tied to McLean account

December 29, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich and Kim Clark | JoAnna Daemmrich and Kim Clark,Staff Writers

At least three more checks from the Baltimore comptroller's office went to a bank account that Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean opened under the name of an apparently phony women's group, city auditors have discovered.

The checks, released to the public yesterday, were issued to Resources for Women Inc., which has the same address as a Northwest Baltimore hair salon owned by Mrs. McLean's sister and brother-in-law. They provide the latest link tying Mrs. McLean to city payments.

Auditors found a total of five city checks issued in the last year and a half to Resources for Women, the city solicitor's office said yesterday. Most of the $2,007 sent to the group was deposited in a Harbor Bank checking account to which Mrs. McLean had access.

The group is not incorporated in Maryland or recognized by women's activists, and is a mystery to employees in the comptroller's office.

Details of the checks are the latest in a series of problems for the embattled comptroller, whose activities are under investigation by Maryland's special prosecutor and the city ethics board.

Mrs. McLean, who has taken a paid, indefinite leave of absence, already has been tied to a check paid to a public relations consultant for her office. A $917 paycheck for that worker, Michele D. McCloud, was deposited in the Harbor Bank account to which the comptroller had access. The rest of the more than $22,000 in pay was deposited in another Harbor Bank account.

Investigators are looking into the McCloud contract, as well as allegations that the comptroller steered a city lease to a Federal Hill building owned by her and her husband.

City Solicitor Neal M. Janey said the auditors' financial review was prompted by revelations that the comptroller was paying Ms. McCloud as much as $21.73 an hour for work that apparently was never done.

Checks to Ms. McCloud were mailed to Salon Me'Chelle, the Park Heights Avenue beauty salon run by the comptroller's sister. No reports or results of "research" have been discovered at the comptroller's office so far.

Employees in the comptroller's office also said they were not familiar with Resources for Women.

"Before this, I'd never heard of that particular organization," said Marie C. Henderson, public information officer for the office.

She was listed as the supervisor of Ms. McCloud but says she has never met the woman.

Neither Mrs. McLean nor her attorney, William H. Murphy Jr., could be reached for comment yesterday.

Mrs. McLean, the third most powerful official in Baltimore government, herself opened the first of the accounts for Resources for Women at Harbor Bank.

That's the same bank used by Network 2000, a women's organization for which she serves as treasurer.

Three people had access to the checking account -- the comptroller, Ms. McCloud and Carolyn Burridge, a well-known lobbyist and Network 2000 leader, who says her name was forged.

The account has a Social Security number identical to that of Mrs. McLean's 21-year-old daughter, Michelle D. McLean.

The contact number is the comptroller's direct telephone line at Baltimore City Hall.

Three checks issued to Resources for Women for "research" and a comparison of "other states conducting specific types of audits" were deposited in that account.

The account number for another check is incomplete but nearly matches that on the other checks. The four checks totaled $1,607.

A fifth check, for $400, was deposited in a separate account held by the group at Harbor Bank. It was issued in October. The description listed on the payment order said it was for two articles in the Baltimore Afro-American.

No one could be reached at the newspaper yesterday.

The checks to Resources for Women were issued beginning in October 1992. City payment orders listed only brief descriptions for the work. For example, one listed the description as "financial management/women" and stated the study had a "particular emphasis on women financial officers."

The most recent check was issued two months ago.

Ms. McCloud, the mystery public relations aide hired by the comptroller, is listed as the "director" of Resources for Women on the work vouchers submitted to the city.

Bank records list the aide as the "secretary" of the organization.

In a related matter, Ms. Henderson confirmed that Mrs. McLean still has the use of the city car she received as comptroller.

Ms. Henderson said it was appropriate for Mrs. McLean, who is on a leave of absence while under investigation, to continue using the car, which is normally used only for city business. "She has not been indicted" or convicted of anything, and is still receiving her salary, Ms. Henderson said.

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