Campaign aide agrees to guilty plea

Olszewski's ex-treasurer stole, misreported funds

November 05, 2003|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

Richard Irish, the former campaign treasurer to Baltimore County Councilman John A. Olszewski Sr., has agreed to plead guilty to stealing more than $60,000 in campaign funds and falsifying campaign reports, his attorney said yesterday.

Maryland state prosecutors filed charges against Irish on Monday on two counts, one for theft and one for false campaign reports.

Patrick M. Smith, a Glen Burnie attorney representing Irish, said his client has agreed to plead guilty to those charges in exchange for the prosecutor recommending a suspended sentence. Smith said Irish has also agreed to a plan to repay the money he stole from the campaign account.

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Thomas M. McDonough said he is unable to comment on such an agreement before a plea is formally entered. No court date has been set, McDonough said.

Smith said his client was eager to put the episode behind him and would have no comment on the charges or the agreement.

Irish, 42, works for McCormick and Co. Inc. and served on the county's Board of Appeals, which handles zoning disputes and other matters. He resigned in April.

Irish was once Olszewski's next-door neighbor and began serving as the councilman's campaign chairman in 1997 when he was running for his first term in the district that includes Dundalk and parts of Essex.

When the allegations first surfaced in September, Irish confirmed that he had a longtime gambling addiction and had sought treatment at Gamblers Anonymous.

According to the charges filed by the state prosecutor's office, which handles political corruption cases, Irish reported 19 campaign contribution checks totaling $9,175 as being voided and 24 checks totaling $16,210 as paid to others for campaign expenses, when in fact he cashed them all for personal use. The state also alleges that he intentionally omitted 20 checks totaling $12,150 from campaign finance reports.

Olszewski said he dismissed Irish as his treasurer when he heard of the allegations and cooperated with prosecutors.

"I'm very glad to have it resolved," Olszewski said. "It was an unfortunate situation that he put himself in, and I'm just glad that it was addressed by the proper authorities and that we'll be able to have a conclusion and all be able to move forward."

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