Don Edward Ansell, the controversial sheriff of Prince George's County, has decide to seek reelection to a third term and is planning to form a private investigative agency and help his wife run a Greek-American restaurant in Marlow Heights after he leaves office next January.
Ansell said he is abandoning his political career at his family's request and because his sheriff's salary is not sufficient to pay off the legal fees he accumulated during a trial that ended three months ago when he was found innocent of charges that he had misappropiate funds from a 1976 banquet.
"My wife's been very, good to me - she's gone along with everything I've wanted. Now it's time to make her happy." the 40-year-old sheriff said in a recent interview. "And I'm being very realistic about it. There's no way I could pay off my debts with my current income."
Ansell would not say much he still owes his lawyers, Victor Houlon and Ralph Powers, but in May, when his friends held a fund-raiser to help him pay off his debts, he indicated that they amounted to more than $50,000.
The sheriff said his wife recently purchased a major interest in Rector's Restaurant, an eatery in the Marlow Heights shopping center that features Greek-American cruisine, and said he would help her operate her establishment. "We've both had some experience with restaurants," he said. "And I'm a little bit Greek. My grandfather came from there."
Ansell said that he and his chief assistant, Maj Guy Williams, have been talking about going into business investigators next year. Williams was also indicted - and eventually acquitted - for the role in the 1976 "Deputy of the Year" banquet.
The stocky, raspy-voiced sheriff is currently taking a four-week vacation - the first, he said, since he took office in 1971. He said he plans to remain in office until his term ends, and also will continue attending law school at University of Maryland-Baltimore.
Following his indictment in October 1977, the county Democratic organization cooled considerably toward Ansell, who ran successfully on the party ticket in 1970 and 1974. Lance Billingsley, the party chairman, suggested that Ansell take a leave of absence during his trial, a suggestion that the sheriff ignored.
After he was aquitted in March, Ansell told reporters that he was considering running again, and that if did so it would be as an independent Democrat against the party's candidate. Today, however, Ansell says he will not speak out against the party leadership.
"I came into politics clean, I never got dirty, and I'm not going to stoop to it now," he said. "I don't believe in mudslinging and I'm not going to get involved in it."