Offices of 2 Senior Aides Searched By FBI in Probe, Executive Says

County Executive Jack B. Johnson pledged cooperation in the probe.
County Executive Jack B. Johnson pledged cooperation in the probe. (Mark Gail - Twp)
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By Ovetta Wiggins and Rosalind S. Helderman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson confirmed yesterday that FBI raids over the weekend included searches of offices of two of his senior aides, one more than was previously known, and he pledged cooperation in the federal probe of a massive development project near the Greenbelt Metro station.

The coordinated FBI action, in county offices and at the homes of a top fire official and a former County Council member, also included a search of the offices of one of the project's developers and an interview with another, the developers said.

At the county government's headquarters in Upper Marlboro, Johnson said, agents searched the office of Deputy Chief Administrative Officer David Byrd, who works on economic development matters for the county. Sources previously said the agents searched the office of J. Michael Dougherty Jr., the county's director of finance.

County spokesman John Erzen said Johnson (D) would speak on each man's behalf. Johnson said FBI agents might have searched Byrd and Dougherty's offices merely because development and financial records are stored in them.

"Just because somebody is investigating, it just means an allegation was made and the federal authorities are looking for documents and other things," he said. "I don't have any information that says anyone in my government has done anything wrong."

Johnson said the FBI did not search his home or office and he has not been interviewed. The 240-acre development, Greenbelt Station, is a massive project between the Greenbelt Metro station and the Capital Beltway. Although construction has not begun, plans call for it to include 2,200 residential units and more than 1 million square feet of retail space.

Developer Patrick Ricker, who said he owns 3 percent of the project, confirmed that his offices were also raided. Ricker said he arrived at work yesterday morning and found his office in disarray.

"I'm just literally going through my" things, Ricker said. "I'm trying to figure out what the hell they want."

Ricker declined to answer additional questions, saying he needed to talk to a lawyer. His attorney, William C. Brennan, said later that he had no comment on the investigation. Daniel I. Colton, another partner in the massive development, said that on Saturday, FBI agents "came to talk to me."

Like Ricker, Colton said he was also trying to understand why federal investigators were interested in the project.

Colton said he and the estate of A.H. Smith are co-owners of Metropark, on the southern portion of the property, where residential development is planned. Colton would not say what stake he had in the development or whether there were any other partners or investors. "We're doing it just like any other development, except it has taken us 12 years to do it," Colton said. Asked what the federal agents said during their visit, Colton said: "I have to give an official, big 'No comment.' "

He later said that the agents were seeking a "great big giant laundry list" of information.

On Saturday, agents raided the home and office of Fire Department Lt. Col. Karl L. Granzow Jr., a longtime friend of Ricker's. An attorney for Granzow declined to comment on the searches yesterday.

The agents also raided the home of former council member Thomas R. Hendershot, who has declined to comment. Before he left office in 2006, Hendershot sponsored rezoning legislation for the Greenbelt project and was one of several sponsors of legislation that allowed a government subsidy for the project.

Staff writer Henri E. Cauvin contributed to this report.

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