Arundel council won't dwell on past of county attorney

January 13, 1995|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

An article in Friday's editions of The Sun incorrectly identified the party affiliation of Anne Arundel County Councilman Bert Rice. Mr. Rice is a Republican.

The Sun regrets the error.

Anne Arundel County Council members said yesterday that they don't mind working with new County Attorney Phillip F. Scheibe, who used the same office 25 years ago to make profitable deals on county-owned land.

But an expert on legal ethics said Mr. Scheibe's past activities may erode the public's confidence in the integrity of their local government.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

"To me there's a legitimate question about the public's perception as to concerns on whether the government is really acting in their best interests," said Abraham Dash, a professor who teaches legal ethics at the University of Maryland Law School.

Council members said yesterday that Mr. Scheibe's past conduct is between him and his boss, Republican County Executive John G. Gary.

"Let's give the man a chance," said Democrat Bert Rice, one of five new members on the seven-member council.

Mr. Gary said he intends to keep Mr. Scheibe, who contributed $4,000 to the executive's campaign last year.

Mr. Scheibe was county attorney from 1967 to 1970 and was reappointed last month.

According to records from a 1976 civil trial, Mr. Scheibe admitted that in 1968 he learned the value of a 40-acre tract from the assessor and gave money to a friend to bid on it. The two men bought a second parcel at public auction in 1970.

Mr. Scheibe sold the land for an estimated $52,000 in profits, according to county land records.

Council members emphasized that the deals were roughly 25 years ago and that while Mr. Scheibe was investigated by the Anne Arundel County state's attorney's office, he never was criminally charged.

"If you look into everything that's gone on in the past and everybody's past dealings, you probably would find something in everybody's past that doesn't smell so good," said Thomas W. Redmond Sr., a Democrat.

Councilman William C. Mulford II, a Republican and former assistant state's attorney, said he had no problems working with Mr. Scheibe when he represented criminal defendants in District Court cases.

"I've never had any reason to question his veracity," Mr. Mulford said.

But Democrats outside of county government said Mr. Gary may have made a mistake in appointing Mr. Scheibe.

"When you're putting together a new administration you want to get the best people you can, and certainly this kind of thing tarnishes that administration," said state Sen. John C. Astle, a leading Anne Arundel Democrat.

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