40 notified their calls were recorded during investigation of city liquor board Wiretaps used on phones of two indicted this month

May 21, 1998|By Walter F. Roche Jr. | Walter F. Roche Jr.,SUN STAFF

About 40 people, six of them employees of the Baltimore liquor board, have been notified that their telephone conversations were secretly intercepted and recorded as part of the state prosecutor's investigation that led to recent indictments.

Nathan C. Irby Jr., executive secretary of the liquor board, said yesterday that the employees' calls were intercepted when they called the home of Anthony J. Cianferano, the chief inspector of the board who was indicted on bribery charges this month.

The letters sent late last week by state Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli's office disclose that wiretaps were used from Jan. 20 to Feb. 19 under a court order approved Jan. 20. According to the disclosure, the calls were monitored seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. In addition to Cianferano's home phone, investigators also monitored calls made to or from the home of William J. Madonna Jr., the former state delegate who was JTC indicted with Cianferano. Cianferano was suspended without pay from his $30,632-a-year job shortly after the indictments were made public.

Irby would not disclose which employees received the wiretap notifications, but he stressed that there was nothing unusual about board employees calling the chief inspector at his home.

Irby said he had no knowledge of illegal activities being discussed in the phone calls by current employees.

According to liquor board sources, four of the employees who received letters are inspectors who reported to Cianferano.

Under state law, those notified of the wiretaps can file a petition in Baltimore City Circuit Court to find out what was recorded.

Michael McDonough, the prosecutor handling the liquor board case, declined to comment on the notifications as did attorneys for Madonna and Cianferano.

Cianferano, Madonna and four others indicted as a result of the investigation are scheduled to be arraigned on the charges next month.

The liquor board investigation was sparked by charges made by former inspector Marion P. Turner, who said she was fired because she refused to engage in illegal acts. Attorneys for the liquor board have denied that Turner was asked to do anything illegal.

In her wrongful termination lawsuit, Turner said that two key events led to her dismissal: a call she received from an FBI agent seeking information on former state Sen. Larry Young and her actions on a liquor license application for the Royal Cafe.

Turner's suit is being reviewed by the state Court of Special Appeals.

Turner said she objected to the Royal Cafe license application because of the involvement of Kenneth A. Jackson, a felon. Mary Collins, a city school department employee, said yesterday that the charge that Jackson was involved in the application was incorrect. She said it was she who applied for the license transfer, not Jackson.

Records show that Jackson's mother was the owner of the building where the Royal Cafe was to be located. The license application was not granted.

Irby said that despite the indictments, the board and its employees are trying to remain focused on their enforcement efforts. "But it's still unnerving," he said.

Pub Date: 5/21/98

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