Dunbar's Pompey won't be prosecuted

August 06, 1994|By Michael James | Michael James,Sun Staff Writer Derek Toney contributed to this article.

Although his bookkeeping practices were sharply criticized, suspended Dunbar High School coach Pete Pompey won't face criminal prosecution for alleged mishandling of school funds, Baltimore's state's attorney announced yesterday.

In a double-edged statement, State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms said that his office's inquiry into the football and basketball coach "had concluded and no further action will be undertaken." But he added that the investigation showed "a pattern and practice by Mr. Pompey of undocumented expenditures, poor management and an avoidance of accountability."

The announcement seemed to leave Mr. Pompey -- who probably will not return to the Dunbar sports program -- perplexed and somewhat miffed.

"I like what I hear on the one hand, and then on the other, I don't like what I hear," Mr. Pompey said after a reporter read him the statement over the phone last night. "It's difficult for me to say anything right now. I need to confer with my lawyer about what our next step will be."

Mr. Pompey, 54, was placed on administrative leave from Dunbar on July 17, 1993, and forced to vacate his coaching and athletic director posts pending the outcome of the investigation.

The action was taken because school officials said several thousand dollars was missing from a Dunbar concession stand at Camden Yards that Mr. Pompey supervised. School officials and prosecutors have been tight-lipped about why they suspected Mr. Pompey of wrongdoing, and last night they refused to release the state's attorney's summary report.

Mr. Simms said yesterday that he has passed the investigation's findings -- which included a review of about 800 checks from four bank accounts -- to city school administrators, who now must decide what action to take.

"We believe, based on our analysis, the evidence is not sufficient to establish that there was a crime," Mr. Simms said.

Baltimore schools Superintendent Dr. Walter G. Amprey said he has turned over the state's attorney's findings to lawyers representing the school system. He added, "It's probably likely [Mr. Pompey] will not be going back to Dunbar.

"It's not final yet, but my feeling as superintendent is that it wouldn't be appropriate for him to go back there. The investigation does indicate there's plenty of violations of our policies . . . pertaining to how public funds are used," Dr. Amprey said.

Among those violations are "inappropriate accounts" and an inability to account for some missing money, Dr. Amprey said.

It is unclear what job he will assign Mr. Pompey, Dr. Amprey said, or if he will allow him to coach again.

"It's too bad, because I like him a lot," Dr. Amprey said. "He's a good coach and a good person. It's just a matter of some bad financial judgments he made."

As basketball coach at Dunbar, Mr. Pompey guided one of the nation's top-ranked high school programs. In 1992, Dunbar finished 29-0 and was rated No. 1 by USA Today, which also picked Mr. Pompey as national high school basketball coach of the year.

"I'm glad there wasn't anything found against Pete," said Dunbar principal Charlotte Brown. "I've known Pete for a long time, and he's a wonderful person."

Dunbar senior basketball player Billy Wells questioned why Mr. Pompey couldn't return to the school.

"If the charges are dropped, why can't he coach?" Mr. Wells said. "It's like they are holding something against him. It's got to be personal."

"Well, at least the criminal part is over, which he isn't one," said Rodney Elliott, one of Mr. Pompey's former players, who is headed to the University of Maryland this fall on a basketball scholarship. "He has never done anything to hurt anyone."

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