Former chief of Md. agency to be indicted

Charges expected today in anti-crime group probe

March 17, 2004|By Gail Gibson and Greg Garland | Gail Gibson and Greg Garland,SUN STAFF

Federal authorities are expected to announce charges today against a central figure in the long-running investigation of a Maryland anti-crime agency closely affiliated with former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Stephen P. Amos, the former executive director of the Governor's Office on Crime Control and Prevention, is expected to be named in the first indictment to arise from the 2-year probe, a law enforcement source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said yesterday.

It was not clear what charges might be brought against Amos, but subpoenas issued during the probe suggested that federal investigators were examining whether the state office had complied with federal rules restricting the amount of money from crime-prevention grants that can be used for administrative expenses.

Amos could not be reached last night. His attorney, Gregg L. Bernstein, declined to comment.

Vickie E. LeDuc, a spokeswoman for Maryland U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio, said she could not comment.

An indictment would be the first public sign of activity in the politically sensitive probe in many months. The investigation came to light in summer 2002, as Townsend, a Democrat, entered the final months of her ultimately unsuccessful campaign for governor against Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Ehrlich had recommended DiBiagio for his post as the state's chief federal prosecutor a year earlier, and Townsend sharply dismissed the probe as "political garbage." But Townsend had played a major role in expanding the crime agency's role in Maryland, and the open investigation clouded her candidacy.

DiBiagio has never commented publicly on the investigation. There was evidence the probe was still alive well after the election, however. In a subpoena to the agency, authorities asked for records of "meetings with Stephen Amos, notes, spreadsheets, charts, graphs or any other form of communication regarding administrative costs."

The subpoena also asked for any records concerning "the exceeding of the administrative costs allowed in grants" from the U.S. Department of Justice, a major funding source for the crime-control office.

Amos has repeatedly said he did nothing wrong while heading the office and has defended the work of his former employees as well. He was fired, along with six other employees at the agency, soon after Ehrlich was sworn in as governor - but Amos, a political appointee, said the dismissal was not unexpected with the change in administration.

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