Worker had state salary, aide says

Crime-fighting employee who was subpoena's focus isn't linked to federal grant

August 30, 2002|By Michael Dresser and Gail Gibson | Michael Dresser and Gail Gibson,SUN STAFF

A former state employee whose work records were subpoenaed by authorities investigating the possible misuse of federal funds was paid entirely with state money when he worked in Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's office, a Townsend aide said yesterday.

Michael Sarbanes, deputy chief of staff for Townsend, said former employee Daniel I. Franklin was not paid through any of the federal crime-fighting grants that are the apparent focus of a federal grand jury investigation.

A subpoena delivered Tuesday to Maryland State Police demanded Franklin's personnel file, including all records "showing the source of funds" used to pay him. If no U.S. funds were used, it is unclear how Franklin's work arrangement would factor into any federal case.

Franklin, 30, left state government late last year and lives in Washington. He answered the door at his Capitol Hill townhouse yesterday but declined to comment.

State officials said yesterday that from 1995 to 1999, Franklin was a contractual employee with the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention, the agency that has been at the center of the federal grand jury investigation. He worked for Townsend's office as a researcher and speech writer focused on criminal justice issues, Sarbanes said.

In 1999, Franklin was put on the state police payroll as a full-time worker, although he continued to work for Townsend's office, Sarbanes said.

The federal investigation is examining how and why staff members were hired at the crime-control agency and the work they did. The grand jury is sifting through tens of thousands of pages of records from the crime-control office and the University of Maryland, College Park. More than 30 agency workers were paid under federal grants awarded to the university.

Townsend and top officials at the crime-control agency have said they are confident that federal authorities will find no wrongdoing. Townsend has called the investigation "political garbage," suggesting that it was designed by U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio to benefit Republican Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in this fall's gubernatorial race.

DiBiagio has repeatedly declined to comment on the investigation.

Sarbanes said yesterday that Franklin was moved to the police payroll as part of a statewide effort to reduce the number of contractual workers, who do not receive the same benefits as other state employees.

While a contractual employee at the crime agency, Franklin started at $18.75 an hour and was earning $21.63 when transferred to the state police. His salary there went from $51,580 in 1999 to $61,597 when he left.

In both jobs, he was paid out of the state's general fund, Sarbanes said. State police officials referred questions about Franklin to Townsend's office.

Adam Gelb, Townsend's former top adviser on crime issues, said it was a common practice for staff members to be "detailed" from agencies to the lieutenant governor's office and other State House jobs.

The former adviser, who now works in Georgia state government, said the lieutenant governor's office needed help from other agencies because Townsend was given far more responsibility than her predecessors.

"They absolutely need the additional help," Gelb said. Without it, he added, the office would not have been able to answer all its calls and letters.

Sun staff writer Greg Garland contributed to this article.

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