Former official denies misusing $6.3 million

Amos pleads not guilty in misappropriation of crime control office funds

March 30, 2004|By Gail Gibson | Gail Gibson,SUN STAFF

The former director of the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges that he misappropriated $6.3 million in federal grant money, part of which allegedly paid for staff for former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Stephen P. Amos, 44, pleaded not guilty to each of the three counts of misusing federal money. Magistrate Judge Susan K. Gauvey released Amos on his own recognizance after a brief hearing in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Amos declined to comment outside court. His attorney, Gregg L. Bernstein, said Amos is looking forward to a trial that would "lift this cloud that's been hanging over his head."

"We look forward to finally being able to present our defense at trial," Bernstein said.

Amos' case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis. No trial date has been scheduled.

Amos is accused of misappropriating money that was supposed to go to crime-prevention projects such as building detention centers, or paying for additional judges, prosecutors or probation officers. Prosecutors allege that Amos instead directed the money toward salaries for as many as 50 workers, including apparent political aides to Townsend, while he headed the crime-control office.

The indictment against Amos does not allege that he used any of the funds for personal gain.

The charges against Amos came after a two-year FBI investigation that clouded Townsend's unsuccessful run for governor in 2002. In announcing the indictment against Amos earlier this month, Maryland U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio said that the investigation was continuing but that Townsend was not a target.

As lieutenant governor, she oversaw the crime-control office and played a major role in its expansion under Gov. Parris N. Glendening. Townsend recruited Amos, a longtime government manager who had worked for the grant-making arm of the U.S. Justice Department.

Amos was named executive director of the crime-control office in July 2000 and was fired in February last year, when Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. took office and replaced much of the staff.

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