Former city liquor inspector sues board

She says race played role in 1996 dismissal

January 14, 2000|By Walter F. Roche Jr. | Walter F. Roche Jr.,SUN STAFF

A former city liquor inspector, whose accusations of corruption on the liquor board fueled a criminal probe, has filed suit in U.S. District Court charging that her May 24, 1996, firing was racially motivated.

In the four-page complaint filed Wednesday, Marion P. Turner, the former liquor inspector charged that while she was fired after being accused of violating board policies, a white employee who acknowledged similar violations was neither disciplined or discharged.

Nathan C. Irby Jr., executive secretary of the board, said yesterday that he had just received a copy of the suit and had not had a chance to review it.

Turner previously filed a wrongful termination suit in Baltimore City Circuit Court, but the case was dismissed.

Turner was fired on accusations that she violated board regulations and was insubordinate. She was fired after then-state Sen. Larry Young withdrew his sponsorship of her appointment to the board. She had been appointed to the job in 1990.

Contending that Turner never did violate board rules, the complaint states, "No other white employee was treated in this manner." The complaint also notes the testimony of a board official, Jane Schroeder, in a 1999 board corruption trial. During that trial, Schroeder, the deputy executive secretary, testified that licensees had routinely provided party platters and gifts to board employees though the practice was barred. She acknowledged under questioning that she received bottles of liquor provided by a lawyer for liquor wholesalers.

Schroeder was not charged with wrongdoing and appeared at the trial as a prosecution witness. Her testimony came in the trial of former chief city liquor Inspector Anthony J. Cianferano and former Del. William J. Madonna Jr. The two were cleared of bribery charges, but pleaded guilty to conspiring to thwart enforcement of state liquor laws.

Turner's suit seeks $300,000 in actual damages and $500,000 in punitive damages from the liquor board.

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