The former director of a Maryland agency that distributes federal anticrime grants was indicted on charges he misused $6.3 million, reports the Baltimore Sun. Some of the money paid for speechwriters and other staff for then-Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. The charges against Stephen P. Amos, former executive director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, came in a 2-year FBI investigation that clouded Townsend’s unsuccessful run for governor in 2002. The probe is continuing, but Townsend is not a target.
As lieutenant governor, Townsend oversaw the crime-control office and played a major role in its expansion. But U.S. Attorney Thomas DiBiagio said Townsend was not aware of the alleged misuse of funds and did not direct the agency to put her workers on its payroll.
Amos is accused of misappropriating money that was supposed to go to projects such as building detention centers, or paying for judges, prosecutors, or probation officers. Amos is accused of directing the money toward salaries of as many as 50 workers, including apparent political aides to Townsend.
An attorney for Amos, 44, denied the charges. “At worst, this is an administrative and budget issue,” said Gregg Bernstein. “It is mind-boggling that the U.S. attorney would turn this into a crime, and we are confident a jury will have the same reaction to this indictment that we do.”
To bring the charges, investigators used a public corruption law that allows them to investigate corruption in state and local agencies that receive at least $10,000 in federal funding. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a challenge to the law brought by a Minnesota real estate developer. DiBiagio acknowledged that if the court finds the statute unconstitutional on its face, the charges against Amos will fail.