Grand jury hears testimony from liquor board officials Among those called are former chairman, executive secretary

April 16, 1998|By Walter F. Roche Jr. | Walter F. Roche Jr.,SUN STAFF

The grand jury probing charges of corruption in Baltimore's liquor license board took lengthy testimony yesterday from three current and former top officials of the agency, including the former chairman.

George Brown, who chaired the city liquor board until last year, was in the grand jury room for nearly an hour. He declined to comment as he left the courthouse shortly after 4 p.m.

Also called as a witness and declining comment was Jane Schroeder, the longtime assistant executive secretary to the liquor board. She was questioned for nearly an hour.

Aaron Stansbury, the liquor board's former executive secretary, was the final witness of the day, entering the jury room at 4: 15 p.m. Also appearing before the panel yesterday were Phillip Walls, a part-time liquor inspector, and an unidentified restaurant owner, who was accompanied by his attorney.

The investigation being led by state prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli has been under way for more than a year. Sources say they expect the investigation to be completed soon, possibly by the end of the month. The probe was sparked by charges of political influence and favoritism in the granting of liquor licenses and in the enforcement of liquor laws by inspectors.

Brown was chairman of the liquor board until a little more than a year ago, when the entire panel was replaced.

Stansbury was executive secretary to the board for nearly 10 years, ending in 1996. He had worked for the board for 28 years and left to take an administrative job in the state comptroller's office.

During the past year, the grand jury has subpoenaed the files of more than 20 establishments with liquor licenses. They include Bohager's Bar and Grill on Eden Street, Aegean Restaurant, Harry's Liquors on Greenmount Avenue, Gentleman's Gold Club on Pulaski Highway and Pimlico Discount Liquors on Park Heights Avenue.

Court records show the owner of Pimlico Discount Liquors, Philip Minn, recently entered a guilty plea to charges of selling drug paraphernalia. Stephen George, the head of a neighborhood group, said his organization has repeatedly complained about the store to the city liquor board, but got no response.

The grand jury also has demanded the personnel files of several current and former liquor board employees, including chief inspector Anthony J. Cianferano.

Recently, several board employees were questioned extensively by members of the state prosecutor's staff.

Pub Date: 4/16/98

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