City liquor board executive secretary agrees to resign post

September 13, 2006|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,sun reporter

Baltimore liquor board executive secretary Nathan C. Irby Jr. agreed yesterday to resign from his position as head of the state agency and collect about $40,000 in back pay and benefits rather than proceed with a potentially lengthy appeal in city Circuit Court.

The settlement between Irby, a former state senator and city councilman from East Baltimore, and the liquor board was reached minutes before Irby was to challenge his March 24 termination before Circuit Judge Stuart R. Berger.

"The net effect of the settlement is that Nathan Irby is no longer the executive secretary of the liquor board," said Gerald Langbaum, an assistant attorney general who represents the city liquor board in legal matters.

Langbaum said Irby would receive about six months of pay. Irby, appointed head of the board in 1997, earned about $80,000 a year.

Irby and his attorneys, George Russell Jr. and Craig Boas of the law offices of Peter G. Angelos, declined to comment on the settlement and quickly left the courthouse after the hearing was concluded.

In his petition, Irby said he was unfairly dismissed because liquor board Commissioner Edward Smith Jr. was prejudiced against him and because he was never told why he was being fired. Irby was suspended Jan. 23 pending termination.

Smith, a Baltimore defense attorney, has been especially critical of Irby, accusing the former politician of permitting the loss of "virtually thousands" of work hours by liquor board inspectors who were not performing their job duties.

Last year, Irby and other top liquor board officials were accused of political collusion and corruption by chief liquor board inspector Samuel T. Daniels Jr. Daniels eventually withdrew his complaint but not before the state prosecutor's office launched an investigation into the agency. The state's query into liquor board practices has yet to wrap up.

Irby has maintained his innocence and vowed to clear his name.

He declined to comment, but in the presence of a Sun reporter, he told Daniels yesterday: "I feel like I got railroaded." Daniels has taken over Irby's duties temporarily.

"I know," said Daniels. "Let's just move forward."

lynn.anderson@baltsun.com

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