The Prince George's County government's top administrator has protested "the propriety" of the way in which records subpoenaed for a grand jury probe of Sheriff Don Edward Ansell and the sheriff's office were removed from a county warehouse this week.
Chief Administrative Officer Robert W. Wilson complained to both Ansell and State's Attorney Arthur A. Maryshall Jr. that a sheriff's deputy trucked away about two dozen cartons of records from the warehouse "without appropriate authority."
Ansell said yesterday that in response to the subpoena he "went ahead and took them (the records) and gave them to the state's attorney. It's a cut and dried matter. If people got upset about it, that's tough."
Wilson had complained in writing to Ansell "about the somewhat unorthodox method employed by members of your department in the recent records removal," which was carried out without the usual written request indicating specific papers needed.
According to internal government memos, after one deputy was informed over the telephone that the sheriff must submit a written request, the other deputy drove off with the records.
State's Attorney Marshall, Assistant State's Attorney Rebert C. Bonsib and investigator Michael Gaffney all minimized the incident. They said that all documents sought by the subpoena had been obtained from Ansell.
Another subpoena for additional sheriff's department documents was served Wednesday on records custodian Wilson instead of on Ansell.
The grand jury people of Ansell, now in its sixth week, began after a four-month investigation by the county's prosecutiors, sparked by a March 28 article in The Washington Post, into allegations, that the sheriff had used his office for personal gain. Information turned up by the initial inquiry broadened the probed allegations to include misappropriations of property or funds by others inside the department.
To complete its investigation, the grand jury is being held past its normal expiration date of Sept. 30, the first time a grand jury's term has been extended in county history. By the time its work is done, the grand jury will have heard from about 50 witnesses.
Marshall, in interviews with The Post, has said he believes sufficient information has been developed to justify indictments against members of the sheriff's department. A majority of the 23 grand jurors must vote an indictment. So far, no indictments have been issued.
Several witness before the grand jury have privately expressed dismay over the tone and content of questions posed by one members of the panel whom they describe as intensely proAnsell.
The grand juror, according to sources, has on several occasions placed telephone calls for the sheriff's office in the county jail.
Ansell denied, through his attoenry, ever having a converstion with the grand juror. Marshall said he talked to both the grand juror and the jury foreman and was satisfied that all telephone calls could be accounted for.
More than 100 subpoenas have been issued during the investigation. After Ansell was served Monday with one requesting specific documents, he sent the two deputies to the warehouse.
About 3 p.m. Monday, Jayne Reinhardt, supervisor of microfilm at the warehouse, reported to another county official that the deputies were removing records. Warren K. Wright, acting director of the office of central services, then consulted with Ken Glover, administrative assistant to Wilson, and County Attorney James Chapin.
"It was decided not to release the records until a written request had been sent to the (county) executive from the sheriff listing the records wanted," according to a written report by Wright.
After the records were removed, Wright phoned Ansell and the sheriff "indicated that he would not (return) the records until he had screened them to determine what was there.
"He did imply, to the best of my recollection," Wright wrote, "that anything the grand jury or state's attorney requested would be provided to them if he found pertinent information in the files."
The files taken, according to Wilson's memo to Marshall, included money receipt records, transportation logs, shift commander records, communications shift reports, and daily reports from the courts on civil matters.
At 4:45 p.m. Monday, one of the deputies returned 24 cartons or records. "Outstanding are unspecified documents which the sheriff indicated were needed by the grand jury," Wilson wrote.
Another county employee who received the records, noted, "I did not check any materials returned, because I did not know what records were in the boxeswhen they were removed . . .