Two official ledgers, thought to have been buried with a truckload of other records from the Prince George's County Sheriff's Department, mysteriously reappeared yesterday in a file cabinet investigators insisted they searched the day before.
Sheriff's investigators said the ledgers, which were needed to defend the county against a $1.27 million civil suit, were put there by someone who apparently broke into the office during the night. Sheriff James V. Aluisi said he was trying to determine who it was.
Meanwhile, former Prince George's County Sheriff Don Edward Ansell reiterated his denial that he ordered the destruction of records -- despite a notation to the contrary signed by his second in command.Those documents are believed to have been buried in a 300-acre county landfill after being used in a grand jury probe of Ansell and his use of public funds. They have not been found.
Ansell accused Aluisi, his successor, of "lies and a coverup" because the sheriff's office has made statements about bookkeeping irregularities and records that are missing from the days when Ansell headed the department.
"Aluisi is trying to build a reputation for himself as Mr. Clean, Mr. White Hat, at anybody else's expense? Ansell told an evening news conference at the restaurant he owns in Marlow Heights.
He also blamed Aluisi for the suicide of a key Ansell aide whose activities have been at the center of the continuing probe into the use of a purported double bookkeeping system in the sheriff's office. Investigators believe the system may have been used to conceal the disappearance of up to $100,000 in public funds.
Ansell claimed the books were kept according to proper accounting procedures and that the aide who kept them, Delores Carabrese, had been cleared of any wrongdoing by the state's attorney's office.
By failing to inform her of that, the former sheriff said, his successor let her go on believing she might face criminal charges.
Ansell said Carobrese had told him repeatedly "that she couldn't take the pressure and embarrassment of an investigation and trial; she would not go through one."
Aluisi dismissed the various allegations of his predecessor.
"The only thing I can say is that the audits department found missing handguns, money and records, but that two weeks before I came to the office Ansell told me that nothing was missing, everything was accounted for," the sheriff said.
He added he was making no charges against individuals at this time but was simply conducting an investigation into irregularities and the "rather questionable handling of records."
As for notifying Carobrese that she had been cleared, Aluisi said he was never told such a thing and, in fact, at least one investigation -- by county auditors -- was in progress at the time of her death July 17.
Arthur A. Marshall Jr., the Prince George's state's attorney, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Aluisi's department began its investigation after Carobrese's husband told authorities his wife had taken "thousands and thousands" of dollars in public funds. The investigators quickly discovered that many departmental records were missing, including two hardbound green ledgers that would help the county explain what it did with certain property it had confiscated in a case that led to the pending civil suit.
Aluisi said the records were found yesterday in the internal investigations office where the probe is being conducted.
"The whole office had been unpacked, drawer by drawer" in the search for missing records, the sheriff said, and the filing cabinet where the books were found had been checked as recently as Wednesday afternoon.
"They're positive the books hadn't been overlooked," Aluisi said of his investigators.
He said it appeared that the bottom lock on the office door, which had been changed when Aluisi took office last December, had been "jimmied or tampered with."
The top lock, he said, did not appear damaged, but it was an old lock and "who knows how many keys there are or who has them?"