What state prosecutor does

June 18, 2008|By LYNN ANDERSON

The Office of the State Prosecutor opened its doors in 1977 with a mandate to investigate allegations of misconduct by public officials and employees, including violations of state election and ethics laws.

State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh was appointed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in August 2004. Rohrbaugh can initiate his own investigations, as he did with the Sheila Dixon query, or investigate at the request of the governor, attorney general, General Assembly, State Ethics Commission or a state's attorney.

The office has been criticized in the past for failing to deliver indictments on high-profile cases, and Rohrbaugh has worked to change that image.

Last week, his office announced that Edward St. John, a developer and active political contributor, will pay $55,000 in civil fines after an investigation revealed that he had made third-party campaign donations through subordinates, in order to skirt election laws that limit the amount an individual or corporation can contribute during a campaign cycle.

Rohrbaugh has also investigated allegations of misconduct at the Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City, a state agency that oversees the city's liquor establishments, as well as a multimillion-dollar technology contract by the state Department of Human Resources. Neither inquiry led to indictments.

Rohrbaugh succeeded Stephen Montanarelli, who died in May 2004. Before being appointed state prosecutor, Rohrbaugh was a federal prosecutor in Montgomery County. He also worked as an assistant U.S. attorney from 1974 to 1980.

The prosecutor's office, which is based in Towson, has 18 employees and an annual budget of $1.3 million.

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