McLeans' office building to be sold at auction Site central to downfall of former comptroller

November 30, 1995|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,SUN STAFF

In a footnote to the saga of former Baltimore Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean, the office building that led to the unraveling of her political career is being sold at auction.

The two-story brick building in the heart of Federal Hill has been on the market for the past year since Mrs. McLean was convicted of theft and misconduct in a corruption scandal.

NationsBank, which is foreclosing on the property, is forcing a sale at public auction Dec. 12. The bank is owed nearly $400,000 on the mortgage, according to court documents.

Once the headquarters of Mrs. McLean's travel agency, the vacant building at 12 W. Montgomery St. was central to her political downfall.

Two years ago, Mrs. McLean slipped a lucrative city lease of the building past the Board of Estimates. At the time, she and her husband, James, had a tentative agreement to sell the one-time headquarters of their defunct agency to pay business debts.

Mrs. McLean, then a rising political star, did not reveal her financial interest and voted in favor of the 10-year, million-dollar deal. She also used documents listing the rear entrance as the property's address instead of the front.

The lease was rescinded after board members discovered that the building was owned by the McLeans' travel agency, Four Seas & Seven Winds Inc.

Mrs. McLean's actions prompted state Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli to open an inquiry. Within weeks, the deal had been overshadowed by the revelation that Mrs. McLean had a fictitious employee on her payroll. A grand jury indicted her in February 1994 on charges of stealing more than $25,000 in taxpayer funds and steering the lease to the building.

What followed was a widely publicized personal and public disintegration that included her resignation from office, a suicide attempt and hospitalization for depression. Last winter, after she tearfully pleaded guilty, Mrs. McLean was sentenced to five years of probation.

Although the McLeans, who are seeking a divorce, paid most of their business debts, their former travel agency owes $315,970 in principal and $56,875 in interest and late charges on the mortgage, court records show.

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