Former official accused of theft Materials for business allegedly ordered through county job

October 02, 1997|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

A former Anne Arundel County public works supervisor was charged with theft yesterday for allegedly ordering $158,118 worth of paint and hardware through the county to run his auto-painting business.

Gary Wayne Bussey, 45, a former superintendent of water-line maintenance in the Department of Public Works for the northern part of the county, was served with a criminal summons to appear in court Oct. 20 on five felony counts of theft, said Kristin Riggin, a spokeswoman for the county state's attorney's office.

From July 1992 to March 1995, Bussey allegedly manipulated the county's purchasing system to buy truckloads of welding machinery, paint guns, impact wrenches, jacks, tape, drills and other equipment that the county did not need, investigator David Cordle said.

Bussey is accused of taking the items to his home in the 1700 block of Severn Road in Severn, where he ran a business called Gary's Auto Body out of three large garages, Cordle said.

Reached at his home, Bussey said he was shocked to hear about the charges. "This was 2 1/2 years ago," he said. "I'm going to have to call my attorney to find out what's going on."

Another county employee noticed the unusual amount of equipment being purchased and tipped off the Department of Public Works, which conducted an audit that found large discrepancies between goods ordered and received, Cordle said.

Bussey at first claimed that the supplies were being stored in county buildings but then admitted having some at his home, Cordle said.

Investigators with a search warrant found thousands of allegedly stolen items at Bussey's business in May 1995.

Apparently, the descriptions of items on the county's purchasing order forms had been changed to obscure that the county didn't normally use the items purchased, Cordle said.

For example, instead of the words "auto-body spray gun" on the order forms, "Sata," a brand name of an auto-body spray gun that few people would recognize was written, Cordle said.

The lengthy period between the state attorney's office's executing the search warrant and charging Bussey yesterday occurred because Cordle, the lead investigator, was on a peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia with the U.S. Army Reserve, according to Riggin.

Bussey, a 23-year county employee, was fired after an investigation in 1995, said county public works spokesman John Morris.

The county began conducting reviews every month and required more documentation to make sure items purchased were really necessary, Morris said.

Pub Date: 10/02/97

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