At the close of a stormy decade in Maryland politics that included investigations of political corruption in four Baltimore-area governments, a Harford County grand jury has indicted former county executive Charles B. Anderson Jr. on charges of fraud and misconduct in office.
The seven-count indictment handed up Monday accused the 48-year-old, blunt-talking millionaire of fraudulently misappropriating $3,876 in county funds and conspiring to use the money to build a driveway on land he plannes to purchase after leaving office.
The grand jury's investigation began shortly after Anderson left office last Dec. 4 when a county employee attempted to carry of the desk and chair from Anderson's office and deliver them to the former executive's home.
The controversy sparked by that incident typified Anderson's stormy six-year administration, which was marked by constant bickering with the County Council.
Anderson, a hardware and building supplies executive in private life and a close ally of former governor Marvin Mandel, was consistently accused by council members of favoritism in the awarding of county contracts and the conduct of county business.
The greatest drama in his administration occurred in 1977 when he unsuccessfully attempted to award a new courthouse design contract to an architectural firm owned by friends.
The same year, federal prosecutors issued sweeping subpoenas for Anderson's financial records. That investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in Baltimore was part of a series of investigations into local government that began in 1972.
During the five years of investigations and resulting trials, the executives of Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties were sent to federal prison after they were convicted of extortion and bribery.
The same investigations led to the resignation of former vice president Agnew, who rose to national office from the posts of Baltimore County executive and governor of Maryland. In 1973, Agnew pleaded no contest to a single count of tax evasion.
The three counties touched by the federal investigations -- Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Harford -- are part of a ring around the city of Baltimore, whose political leaders also were subjected to scrutiny.
Although Monday's indictment was not a direct outgrowth of the federal investigation, federal prosecutors turned over numerous documents to prosecutors dealing with Harford County.