Prince George's County Sheriff Don E. Ansell, who faces trial next year on charges of misappropriation of funds, perjury and filing false tax returns, has fired 158 deputies, including many of his detractors, in a departmental reorganization, a new corrections department is being created to run the county jail in Upper Marlboro, which is now under the sheriff's department will be trimmed to 120 deputies who will carry out its remaining functions of providing courtroom security, serving warrants and transporting prisoners.
A large number of those dropped from the sheriff's rolls will go to work for the new corrections department, about 90 so far, according to county personnel chief Donald Weinberg. However, some will not be offered jobs and others don't want them.
Armed with an opinion from the Maryland attorney general's office that the deputies were neither state nor county employees, with seniority and other rights, Ansell was left to follow his won wishes in determining the deputies' fates.
"Using the results of recent employee interviews by the sherif coupled with specific personnel guidelines," he wrote all employees Monday, "the sheriff has selected through numerical ratings those persons to fill the allocated positions."
"Ansell got his chance to repay those people whom he felt were personally out to get him," charged James Hubbard, head of the deputy sheriff's association and one of those on Ansell's cut list. Hubbard said he has not applied to work in the jail under the new department.
Ansell, who is accused of misappropriating $1,920 paid for tickets to last year's deputy-of-the-year banquet, was said to be away from his office and could not be reached yesterday. maj. Guy T. Williams, his top aide, who was also indicted, did not return a reporter's calls.
"Anyone who's ever complained against Ansell has been 'riffed,"" said Capt. James Aluisi, who said he will work in the jail and may run for sheriff next year. "It seems the indicted sheriff feels that the deputies who are honest, possess integrity and wouldn't withhold information from the state's attorney won't fit into his new regime."
Others "riffed" include Maj. James Carter, who is known to have appeared before the grand jury, and Michelle Keating, a deputy who voiced displeasure with Ansell in a letter to a local newspaper.
"Isit not absurd that a man indicted . . . and his indicted assistant," she wrote, "are the same men who will determine who remains '(in the sheriff's office) and who will not!!!"
Weinberg, the country personnel officer, said he had urged Ansell to follow county procedures for reductions in-force to protect employees' rights. "It was a recommendation," he said. "I would say he's either amended what we proposed to him or he has his own procedures."
A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 28 in County Circuit Court on a motion by the sheriff's deputies to enjoin the personnel actions until the Court can decide whether state or county protections apply to them.
Meanwhile, the chief of the new corrections department remains to be chosen. Ansell, who once angled for the post, did not apply.