An investigator with the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board was fired from a similar job in Ohio after pleading guilty to a charge of bribery, The Washington Post has learned.
This information was apparently known to the ABC Board when it decided to hire the investigator in 1973.
Before becoming one of seven fulltime ABC investigators here, George W. Addison was accused, with two fellow Ohio state liquor inspectors, of accepting payoffs from Akron-area bar owners in 1968. Although court records of Addison's trial have since been sealed, an Ohio prosecutor has confirmed that Addison was indicted on two counts of bribery and entered a guilty plea to one count in june 1970, as reported in newspaper accounts at the time. Addison received a sentence of 60 days in jail and two years' probation.
The circumstances behind Addison's firing were relayed to James W. Hill, then the ABC Board's staff director, when Addison applied for a job here in 1973. Addison had previously worked for the ABC Board in the 1960s, before moving to Ohio.
"The (Ohio) Department of Liquor Control would not consider rehiring Mr. Addison due to past circumstances," an Ohio official wrote Hill. "His performance as an investigator was mediocre."
The letter from Donald D. Cook, director of the Ohio counterpart to the ABC Board, included a copy of Addison's dismissal order. "You have been found guilty (in an administrative hearing) of failure of good behavior, dishonesty, misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance," the order stated.
Despite this letter of reference, Addison was hired. "He is an excellent investigator," said ABC staff director John R. Johnston last week, declining to comment further.
Addison refused to discuss his year as an Ohio liquor investigator, but told The Washington Post that he had never been convicted of anything. "When I came back to Washington. I came back for personal reasons," he said.
"I have approximately 27 years with the government," said Addison. "I have career status with the United States government . . . I am a disabled veteran. I was a war hero. The best thing to do is to examine the record. The record speaks for itself."
An Ohio prosecutor said the conviction had been expunged in July 1977 by court order. This was done at Addison's request, said the prosecutor, in keeping with a new Ohio law designed to prevent a first offender from having a criminal record for life.
The law applies generally to defendants with only one conviction who, after completing their sentences, "come clean with no arrests for three years," according to a Summit County probation officer.
Upon his return to Washington, Addison first obtained a job with the D.C. Minimum Wage and Industrial Safety Board. The U.S. Civil Service Commission "stated that I had reinstatement rights," said Addison.
A year later, he applied for a vacancy with the ABC Board, he said, and no one questioned him about any bad marks on his record.
"I had already been reinstated (as a career civil servant) and when there was an opening I just submitted a form for it," Addison explained.
Hill, now one of three part-time members of the ABC Board, as well as the city's Director of Economic Development, did not respond to three phone messages left for him by a reporter.
The ABC Board has frequently been criticized by police officers and neighborhood organizations for lax enforcement of the city's liquor laws. In particular, some critics have charged, it is sometimes difficult to get an ABC investigator to look into possible ABC violations.
"I have called down and asked and asked and they tell me that they just don't have anyone to come down," said one Georgetown patrol officer recently.
A police liquor squad investigator compalined that 'every two or three years they completely replace our squad man for man" to discourage corruption, "but the ABC Board doesn't get disbanded."
Mary E. Reed, deputy ABC staff director, conceded that there had been a problem several years ago of inspectors associating two closely with licensees. But "none of those people to whom I am referring are currently working," she added.
In the Ohio case, Booker T. Brooks Sr., operator of an Akron nightclub, was accused of collecting $50 a month from area bar owners on behalf of a group of state liquor control agents that included Addison. Brooks received a sentence of one to 10 years.
"It makes me sound like a real criminal, doesn't it?" said Addison when asked about the newspaper accoonts of his trial.
"I think I have a very fine record," he said. "Maybe that isn't saying very much to you but to me it means a hell of a lot . . . I'm at peace with myself."