Prince George's County Sheriff Don Edward Ansell, charged with pocketing funds from a 1976 sheriff's department banquet, denied from the witness stand yesterday that he ever personally profited from the event.
Ansell, testifying on the last day of the week-long trial, said that he had no knowledge as to what happened to any excess funds generated by the banquet because he had delegated responsibility for handling the event's finances to his chief assistant sheriff.
The 40-year-old sheriff, who is specifically charged with using $1.920 in funds left over from the banquet to pay for his children's private schooling, testified that he and his wife routinely kept several thousand dollars in a dresser drawer beneath his wife's lingerie.
Ansell maintained that the funds used to pay his children's tuition bill in full - and in cash - four days after the banquet was held came from that money kept in the lingerie drawer. In the past, the prosecution has argued. Ansell had paid the tuition bill in monthly instalments or in two lump sums, and always by check.
Neither the sheriff nor his wife, who also took the witness stand yesterday, could say exactly how much money they hed in the envelope on Sept. 14, 1976, when the tuition payment was made. But as accountant testifying for the defense said he had analyzed the sheriff's financial records for that year and determined that Ansell could have had $4,000 in cash on hand at the time.
But the accountant acknowledged that for the Ansells to have been able to save the $4,968, they would have had to live on no more than $19.89 a week for the previous 2 1/2 years.
Circuit Court Judge George Bowling, who is hearing the case without a jury, said he would return a verdict at 2 p.m. today.
In his closing argumenAssistant State's Attorney Robert Bonsib attacked what he termed Anaell's envelope at home theory."
In the 1976 school year, Bonsib said, the sheriff made an initial payment of $240 to the Clinton Christian School with a check that carried the notation, "first of ten payments." A second payment of $240 was due, by Sep. 14, but instead of paying only that amount, Bonsib said, Ansell's wife paid off the entire balance of the tuition bill, which amounted to $2,160 in cash.
Bonsib maintained that the Ansells already had the $240 on hand to make the monthly payment, but that the sheriff, aware of the fact over $2,000 in fund was left over from the banguet, added $1,920 in banguet funds to the $240 he had already saved so that he could pay off the entire tuition bill.
According to testimony, a sheriff's department's secretary cashed $1,920 in checks from the banguet on Sept. 13, 1976, the day before the tuition payment was made.
Ansell's, wearing a dark blue pinstriped suit he said he had bought Saturday, depicted his life as that of a churchgoing, nondrinking man with little social life, who both works and goes to school, using weekends and evenings for study.
Ansell said he rarely spends more that $5 a week in pocket money and that he either packs a lunch or eats jail food. On rare occasions, however, "I like a barbecue sandwich with cole slaw" from a luncheonette from Upper Marlboro, said Ansell, who appeared relaxed throughout his more than two hours of testimony.
The sheriff's lawyer, Victor Houlon, argued that Ansell "has led exemplary admirable life," as both a state trooper and as sheriff, and urged the judge for a decision of acquittal.
Houlon charged that the state's case was based on "nuances and suspicions" and said "there are just an awful lot of people in this case who could have taken that money."
Houlon added that , "whether (Ansell) wins or loses this case, he loses. His political career is dead . . . that's where the injustice is in this case."