McLean hired in-law to cater, records show

January 25, 1994|By Kim Clark and JoAnna Daemmrich | Kim Clark and JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writers

Baltimore Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean hired her brother-in-law to cater seven meals and parties at her city office, according to official documents released yesterday.

Payment orders show that the city paid $2,623 to Moore Systems Caterers, which is run by Virgil S. Moore, for providing meals over the last two years.

Mr. Moore and his wife, who is Mrs. McLean's sister, own a beauty parlor at 5401 Park Heights Ave. He runs the catering business as a side venture.

The beauty parlor was the address given for Michele McCloud, the comptroller's mysterious consultant who was paid more than $23,000 for work that no one has seen. Some city expense checks to a nonexistent organization called Resources for Women also were mailed there.

Maryland's special prosecutor is investigating the McCloud contract and whether the comptroller steered a lucrative lease to the former headquarters of her family's travel business.

Meanwhile, Mrs. McLean is on an unpaid leave of absence from the city post.

Moore Systems Caterers, whose checks went to a post office box in Northwest Baltimore, is not incorporated in Maryland or licensed by the city Health Department.

However, employees of the comptroller's office said Mr. Moore catered all the events professionally and served gourmet food. The choice of a family member didn't appear to be improper to other members of the comptroller's office.

"That was up to her," said Marie Henderson, a spokeswoman for the comptroller's office. "Caterers are like anyone else. You find someone you like and stick with them."

Alan Yuspeh, chairman of the city's ethics board, declined to comment specifically on the hiring of the comptroller's brother-in-law.

But he said that it could raise "the appearance of a conflict of interest." If asked for an advisory opinion, the board might well recommend that the comptroller not be involved in choosing the caterer, he added.

Mrs. McLean first hired her brother-in-law to serve food at a Christmas open house for 300 city officials and business leaders in December 1992.

Two months later, the comptroller arranged for a luncheon for two: an $89 feast featuring broasted capon, German potato salad and bread.

The private meal with the comptroller was a prize auctioned off to benefit a charity.

Mr. Moore apparently was the only caterer to work for Ms. McLean since she was sworn into office in December 1991.

Mr. Moore did not respond to notes left at the hair salon and his home.

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