City/County Digest


September 30, 2004|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

In Baltimore City

Lawsuit challenges legal defense funds for council members

A Green Party candidate for City Council filed a lawsuit in Baltimore Circuit Court yesterday challenging the use of city funds to pay the legal bills of incumbent council members, who are the subjects of a federal investigation.

In December, the city's Board of Estimates hired two private attorneys to represent the 19-member council, whose official and personal finances are being probed by U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio. The board agreed to spend up to $230,000 in legal fees.

"I believe that the council has no legal right to use public monies to hire private attorneys for such an investigation," said Bill Barry of the Green Party, who is running in the 3rd District against Councilman Robert W. Curran and Republican Carlos M. Torres. Barry is represented in the case by William Hughes, a former associate city solicitor.

City lawyers have said that council members would have to hire their own lawyers if any are indicted, but that otherwise, they should not have to tap their personal resources.

Ex-parking firm official to lead city authority

The city's Board of Estimates appointed a former parking company executive yesterday to lead the Parking Authority of Baltimore City.

Peter E. Little will earn $105,000 a year as executive director and be responsible for more than a dozen city garages, 10,000 parking meters and 36,000 residential parking permits. He previously was a vice president at Standard Parking, overseeing the company's operations in Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Va., and Charlotte, N.C.

He replaces Jeff Sparrow, who resigned in July after acknowledging that he was a minority owner of two privately held garages that compete with city facilities.

Asked at a news conference with Mayor Martin O'Malley if he had any similar conflicts of interest, Little said, "I do not have any investments in any parking garages or any parking companies anywhere."

Loyola session probes role of Mideast in the election

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute in Washington, will discuss the role of the Middle East in the 2004 elections today at Loyola College.

Zogby - who founded the institute in 1985 and has also established a public opinion research firm - was a visiting professor at Loyola last year.

The lecture, a question-and-answer session and reception - set to begin at 5:30 p.m. in McGuire Hall on the North Charles Street campus - are free and open to the public. Information: 410-617-5138.

In Baltimore County

Convicted mortgage broker indicted on new charges

ARBUTUS - An Arbutus mortgage broker who has served part of a 10-year prison sentence for defrauding customers was indicted on new theft charges, the Maryland attorney general's office said Tuesday.

Michael Dudley Leppert, 41, of the 5600 block of Chelwynd Road was indicted by a Baltimore County grand jury Monday on 11 counts of felony theft charges, alleging that he stole money from customers who were trying to refinance their home mortgages, authorities said.

Leppert was convicted of felony theft in several counties in 1999 and has served nearly three years of a 10-year prison sentence, said Mark Vernarelli, a Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services spokesman. He was paroled in July 2002, but a warrant was issued for his arrest in April for a technical violation of his parole, Vernarelli said. Leppert was sentenced last week to a two-year prison sentence in Anne Arundel County for probation violations, in addition to an eight-year sentence for probation violations in Prince George's, Calvert and Charles counties.

Volunteers sought for waterfront festival

MIDDLE RIVER - Volunteers are being sought for the Baltimore County Waterfront Festival from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. Saturday at Martin's Lagoon near Martin State Airport.

The festival will feature boat tours, rides on historic aircraft, exhibits that will include a water rescue demonstration, music, food and a fireworks display at dusk.

Information: 410-574-7394.

Police to hold hearing on distribution of grant

TOWSON - The Baltimore County Police Department will hold a hearing at 7 p.m. today in Room 106 of the County Office Building, 111 W. Chesapeake Ave., to discuss the distribution of $467,860 in federal Criminal Justice Block Grant funds.

The public will have an opportunity to propose uses for the federal grants at the hearing.

Information: 410-887-5637.

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