The Prince George's County state's attorney has decided after a four-month investigation by prosecuters and state police to present evidence to grand jury of alleged criminal acts involving Sheriff Don Edward Ansell and other persons inside and outside Ansell's department.
The allegations, according to State's Attorney Arthur A. Marshall, include grand larcenies, misappropriate of funds and malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance in office.
Ansell, who has been the Prince George's sheriff since he was elected in 1970, did not return a reporter's phone call yesteerday. His lawyer, Victor Houlon, called, however, to say that Marshall had to take the matter to the grand jury to avoid the appearance of a "whitewash".
"I think Bud [Marshall] is in touch spot," Houston said. "From my sources of information, there's not enough to indict."
The decision to go to the grand jury following an investigation that involved interviews with more than 100 persons was made last Tuesday in a lengthy meeting between Marshall, members of his tailed to the investigation.
"Many, many allegations" against the sheriff and persons close to him," Marshall said, "involved completely uncorroborated and unsubstantiated information we don't expect to present to the grand jury."
However, Marshall said, "There are some matters which would appear to be criminal in nature developed by the investigation." These matters, Marshall said, will be presented to the grand jury for possible indictments.
Marshall refused to be specific about the number of persons who had allegedly committed criminal acts. He cited the misdemeanor of malfeasance as one law that may have been violated, as well as "some specific larcenies" of private property from evictions, which are handled by the sheriff's department.
The presentation to the grand jury will begin Aug. 25 with three witnesses whom Marshall declined to indentify yesterday except to say the initial witnesses will not include Ansell.
Ansell, will be given a chance to testify later, Marshall said. Houloun repeated yesterday the sheriff's earlier offer to waive immunity from prosecution during his grand jury appearance.
"We met the grand jury today and outlined what will be the presentation." Marshall said. The presentation, he said, will require the citizen panel to expand its normal once-a-week meeting schedule.
The grand jury, according to Marshall, is faced with two deadlines, its own experation Sept. 30 and the statutes of limitaions on certain alleged crimes.
One of the areas on which investigators have focused involves a deputy-of-the-year banquet accounting has been made.
Questions about the banquet and other activities centering around Ansell and others in his department were raised in an article in The Washington Post March 23, which Marshall said prompted the official investigation. In the article, Ansell declined to document receipts and expenditures except "to a grand jury".
Last month, Sheriff's deputies received a questionnaire regarding the banquet from Robert C. Bonsib, the investigation. The questionnaire asked deputies, several of whom have said they were coerced into attending the banquet at the Sheraton Lanham, how they paid for the tickets, whom they paid and how much they paid.
Marshall's initial investigation focused on other allegation in The Post article that jail trustees performed chores at the sheriff's house and attended the deputy-of-the-year banquet.
Three weeks later, on April 19, the probe had been expnaded to include more allegations and more investigators, but Marshall predicted then the whole matter would be dismissed or a decision made to go the grand jury in two weeks.
The probe has been prolonged, Marshall said yesterday, because "we kept getting additional matters brought to our attention." The investigation is continuing, Marshall said.
"The grand jury will be used as an investigative body as well as to listen to testimony," Marshall said.
"If he's got a strong case," asked Houlon, the shefiff's lawyer, "why did it take so long to bring it to the grand jury? I think all these weeks since April they've trying to make something out of nothing."