Federal prosecutors dropped a lengthy investigation of an anticrime agency overseen by former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend on the basis of a 15-year-old legal opinion. The Washington Post says an indictment of Stephen Amos, former director of the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, at the government’s request. The move ended a probe launched during Townsend’s 2002 campaign for governor; she denounced the case as “political garbage.”
The Justice Department said that a 1989 legal opinion recently discovered by prosecutors, “is likely to raise reasonable doubt” that Amos knowingly misspent $6.3 million in federal grant money on the salaries of agency employees and Townsend staff members. Amos, 45, was accused of improperly using grant money to pay the salaries of more than 40 people, including 10 who worked for Townsend, among them her deputy chief of staff and several speechwriters. Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who defeated Townsend, he charged that the the money was a “political slush fund” that was “dedicated to Townsend’s election.” The Baltimore Sun quoted former prosecutor Abraham Dash as saying: “it’s outrageous to indict someone and have it turn out like this.” Dash disbelieved the assertion that an exculpatory memo suddenly surfaced late in the investigation. “That’s nonsense,” he said.