City candidate arrested over campaign reports

Charges involve failure to file finance documents

treasurer also charged

September 15, 2004|By Laura Vozzella | Laura Vozzella,SUN STAFF

Running for office time and again brought Doris Minor-Terrell nothing but defeat at the polls.

That is until recently, when the perennial candidate for House of Delegates found out there can be worse fallout from political life than a thumbs-down from voters.

Minor-Terrell was arrested this month on misdemeanor charges of failing to file campaign finance reports and related late fees.

So was her campaign treasurer, Ornat Erby.

"I was locked up," Erby said, adding that he spent 19 hours in custody before being freed on his own recognizance, as Minor-Terrell was Sept. 1. "It's weird. The only thing I can think is there might be some political shenanigans going on because I don't think they would come after you for this."

It is not unusual for the state prosecutor's office to charge people with failing to file campaign finance reports, said Steven Trostle, assistant state prosecutor. The office sometimes receives hundreds of referrals a year from the state Board of Elections.

But many of those cases are resolved without charges being filed. Even when charges are filed, people usually receive criminal summonses, which the courts only turn into arrest warrants if they cannot be served, Trostle said.

"We take all violations of law seriously, and we're going to pursue them as any other crime," Trostle said. "But given their nature, they are relatively minor and don't require a warrant in most cases."

By law, it is the chairman or treasurer of a campaign who is responsible for filing reports, not the candidate, Trostle said.

But under an unusual arrangement, Minor-Terrell served as chairwoman of her committee, Friends of Doris Minor-Terrell.

2003 to 2004

A criminal information filed in Anne Arundel County District Court said Minor-Terrell failed to file or pay late fees on finance reports from 2002 to 2004.

Minor-Terrell could not be reached for comment. A telephone message left at Minor-Terrell's Rutland Avenue home was returned by Erby, who said he was calling on her behalf.

Erby, 66, said at least some of the reports were not filed because of a computer glitch he blamed on the Board of Elections. He also said he was under the impression that no report was needed because the committee only raised $750.

Erby said Minor-Terrell received a note months ago telling her to check with police about a summons.

Went to police station

"She went to Eastern District," Erby said. "Whoever had the paperwork was out on the street, and they tried to get him to come in, and he wouldn't come in."

Early Sept. 1, police were at her door with an arrest warrant, he said. She was held from about 6:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. She has a court date in December, Erby said.

Erby said he turned himself in last week. He said he has received no court date.

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