City Comptroller McLean indicted in lease scandal

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

A special grand jury indicted Baltimore Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean this morning on charges of felony theft and misconduct in office. The indictments charge that she authorized more than $25,000 in payments to a fictitious consultant and organization, and that she arranged a lucrative city lease for a family-owned building.

The 23-member grand jury handed down the indictment at noon, after meeting over a space of more than two months.

Mrs. McLean, who is on a leave of absence since Dec. 20, is charged in one indictment with one count of felony theft and one count of misconduct for allegedly stealing $25,189.10 from the city by authorizing payments to a fictitious consultant and organization created by her.

In another indictment, she faces three counts of misconduct for allegedly steering a $1 million city lease to the former headquarters of the travel agency that she and her husband, James H. McLean, ran.

The maximum penalty for felony theft is 15 years and a $1,000 fine, in addition to repayment of the city money. Misconduct in office does not carry specific penalties.

Mrs. McLean, the city's third most powerful official, will be served a criminal summons requiring her appearance in court.

Maryland's special prosecutor, Stephen Montanarelli, would not say whether the city money, which had been deposited in two bank accounts, was withdrawn by Mrs. McLean.

"That's a matter of evidence," he said, adding, "This is just the first step."

Mrs. McLean was elected in 1991.

Payments on her $53,000 annual salary are being held in escrow.

The comptroller was under investigation for allegedly hiring a public relations consultant who never showed up at the office and apparently did no work.

Checks to the consultant, listed as Michele McCloud, were mailed to Salon Me'Chelle, the Park Heights Avenue beauty salon run by the comptroller's sister. A city report says more than $23,000 in checks were issued to Ms. McCloud.

The checks were deposited into two bank accounts under the name of an apparently fictitious women's group -- the first of which was opened by Mrs. McLean herself.

Another $2,000 in payments from the comptroller's office went to the group, which is not incorporated in Maryland. It also used the address of Salon Me'Chelle, the Park Heights Avenue hair salon.

Mr. Montanarelli also was investigating allegations that Mrs. McLean steered a city lease to a Federal Hill building that she and her husband own.

Baltimore developer Otis Warren Jr. has said that he offered in October to buy the former Four Seas headquarters after Mr. McLean told him he was being pressured by creditors.

Mr. Warren said he offered the McLeans $550,000 in cash and an IOU of $100,000 for 12 W. Montgomery St. -- almost twice what it was worth empty -- because the city had agreed to a 10-year, million-dollar lease on the building.

Mrs. McLean had a pivotal role in obtaining the Health Department lease for her family's building.

The building was listed on some city documents as 11 W. Hughes St., the rear of the building. City officials canceled the lease late last year, after learning about Mrs. McLean's stake in it.

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