Forest Heights Mayor Indicted

By Eric Rich
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 23, 2007

The mayor of the Prince George's County town of Forest Heights was indicted yesterday on charges of embezzling public funds and forging a Town Council resolution that allowed him to seek reimbursement of more than $21,000 in personal legal expenses.

The indictment of Myles Spires Jr., 40, is the latest development in a series of public scandals that have roiled Forest Heights, a town of fewer than 1,000 homes tucked between Indian Head Highway and the District border, and spanned two mayoral administrations.

Spires, appointed by the Town Council one year ago, was suspended in September as questions swirled about his handling of public money. He has initiated a legal effort to remain in office, and last month a judge effectively invalidated a council resolution that would have permanently removed him.

An attorney for Spires, Paul R. Sciubba, said yesterday that his client is innocent. "I'm extremely confident that he'll be exonerated in the end," Sciubba said.

Spires is charged with theft, embezzlement, misconduct in office, submitting a counterfeit invoice, forgery, uttering and attempt to commit theft.

The indictment, obtained by State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh, says that Spires embezzled money by submitting false expense reimbursement claims, including one for $2,500 for "private investigative services."

The indictment accuses Spires of forging the signatures of council members and the town clerk on a resolution authorizing payment for council members who retain lawyers for matters relating to their official duties. In a statement, Rohrbaugh's office said Spires gave the document to his attorneys to induce them to seek reimbursement, "though no such resolution existed."

Sciubba provided The Washington Post with a signed affidavit in which Worthington S. Ross asserts that the council, of which he is a member, passed the resolution Jan. 24. Ross said in the affidavit that he and the other council members signed the resolution.

"Mayor Spires is adamant that the resolution was validly adopted," Sciubba said. Asked how such a matter could be in dispute, Sciubba said, "The town record-keeping is absolutely atrocious."

He accused the prosecutor's office of "taking sides in a small-town fight based on records which are in shambles and the word of the mayor's political opponents."

Rohrbaugh's office would not comment on the indictment.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company