Link to continuing probe of City Hall spending unclear

Dixon aide gets subpoena

January 10, 2008|By John Fritze and Lynn Anderson | John Fritze and Lynn Anderson,Sun reporters

An aide close to Mayor Sheila Dixon has received a subpoena from the Maryland state prosecutor's office, which has been engaged in a long-standing investigation into spending practices at City Hall, a spokesman said yesterday.

Howard D. Dixon, a retired police officer who is a "special assistant" to the mayor, received the subpoena this week, said Sterling Clifford, a spokesman for Sheila Dixon. Howard Dixon, who is not related to the mayor, could not be reached for comment last night.

It is not clear whether the prosecutor's interest in Howard Dixon is connected to the continuing City Hall investigation. Clifford said he did not know the content of the subpoena.

"He received it at his home earlier this week," Clifford said of Howard Dixon's subpoena.

The state prosecutor's office would not confirm or deny that a subpoena had been served.

In recent months, the state prosecutor's investigators have raided the offices of one of the city's most prominent developers and served a subpoena on Baltimore Development Corp., the city's development arm.

Board of Estimates records from February show that Howard Dixon's duties included escorting the mayor to meetings and public events, supervising the maintenance of vehicles assigned to the mayor and advising her on public safety issues. He is frequently seen at the mayor's side when she travels from City Hall.

Howard Dixon - who also worked for Sheila Dixon when she was president of the City Council - is paid $50,000 a year, according to city records. In his case, the Board of Estimates lifted a salary cap typically imposed on city retirees who return to work for the government.

The Maryland state prosecutor began an investigation into spending practices at City Hall in 2006 after a series of articles in The Sun reported that Dixon, as City Council president, had voted on a number of contracts that benefited a company, Union Technologies, that employed her sister.

City ethics laws prohibit city officials from influencing contracts that involve family members.

The paper also reported that Dixon's office had paid $500,000 to her former campaign chairman, Dale G. Clark, for computer services without a contract.

Doracon Contracting Inc., a company owned by Ronald H. Lipscomb, hired Union Technologies as an electrical subcontractor on a number of projects, including one, Frankford Estates, that received tax subsidies from the state and the city. Doracon's offices were raided by prosecutors Nov. 28.

Earlier in November, state investigators issued a subpoena to Baltimore Development Corp., and city officials were expected to turn over documents last month.

At a news conference last month, Dixon characterized the investigation as a "witch hunt," arguing that state prosecutors were covering the same ground as a federal investigation in 2004 that resulted in no charges.

john.fritze@baltsun.com lynn.anderson@baltsun.com

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