City hires a lawyer in probe

May 12, 1994|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

Sparked by a federal probe into alleged corruption in the Baltimore Housing Authority, the city yesterday hired a private attorney with extensive experience in bribery and fraud cases to represent the agency during the investigation.

Gerald D. Glass, Maryland's first special prosecutor and former head of the Baltimore State's Attorney's major fraud division, will receive an initial fee of $5,000. He will be paid $150 an hour for his work, which will be applied against his retainer.

The Board of Estimates yesterday approved the hiring of Mr. Glass, a Towson attorney who has had a private criminal practice for the past 10 years. In a memorandum to the board asking that Mr. Glass be hired, the city's law department described him as an "experienced criminal law attorney."

City Solicitor Neal M. Janey told the board that his department needed to hire Mr. Glass for the Housing Authority probe because the solicitor's only handles only civil matters.

"We are not authorized to practice criminal law," Mr. Janey said.

Daniel P. Henson III, executive director of the Housing Authority, said yesterday that Mr. Janey suggested hiring a lawyer for his agency a couple of months ago, when federal prosecutors began making informal inquiries.

"This is nothing new," he said.

Last month, federal prosecutors subpoenaed Housing Authority records on no-bid repair contracts given out last year under a $23 million emergency renovation program covering about 1,000 public housing units.

The U.S. attorney's office demanded records for construction work and lead paint testing done on many units that were renovated under the emergency program. Mr. Henson, implemented the program to cut the Housing Authority's waiting list.

The grand jury probe comes after an FBI investigation last year of John Dutkevich, a former project manager for the authority who pleaded guilty to bribery in federal court in January.

Prosecutors declined yesterday to talk about their investigation.

Mr. Glass also declined to comment, citing "professional ethics."

The 51-year-old attorney was an assistant city state's attorney from 1970 to 1975, serving first as a prosecutor with the narcotics strike force and later as director of the major fraud division, where he investigated and prosecuted bribes, kickbacks and payoffs.

He served brief stints as an associate city solicitor and federal public defender. He was appointed as the state's first special prosecutor in 1977, charged with investigating conflicts of interest and bribery of state and local government officials.

Gov. Harry Hughes removed Mr. Glass from the special prosecutor's post in 1984.

Mr. Glass' removal came after allegations that he lied during the 1979 federal corruption trial of then city State's Attorney William A. Swisher. A subsequent investigation found no evidence of perjury but raised questions about Mr. Glass' "honesty and integrity under pressure."

Mr. Hughes replaced Mr. Glass with Stephen Montanarelli, who still holds the special prosecutor's post.

Mr. Glass began his private criminal law practice after leaving the special prosecutor's job.

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