A Prince George's County legislator yesterday called for the suspension of landlord Shao Ti Hsu from his professor's job at the University of Maryland until allegations concerning Hsu's plan to buy county apartment projects with former U.S. senator Vance Hartke had been resolved.
University officials reacted guardedly to reports that the FBI had collected evidence that Hsu and Hartke, a Democrat from Indiana, offered a Prince George's housing official financial interests in rundown apartment complexes if he prevented county officials from interfering with their sale or opertaion.
But state Sen. Edward T. Conroy said he asked Maryland Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs to prepare an opinion on whether the university could suspend Hsu -- a tenured engineering professor -- from his job.
"Assuming the allegations are true," Conroy said, 'we are dealing with an awesome problem and I will press for means legislative or otherwise to suspend [hsu] from any position of public trust."
Hsu, 63, a millionaire landlord, did not return a reporter's phone calls yesterday. County officials said he was missing from his usual haunt near the pay telephone in the county's Hyattsville office building, which is next door to his Emerson Gardens apartment project.
Hartke, who has denied that he knew of any offers to Prince George's housing official Charles C. Deegan, also was unavailable for comment yesterday, although he spent several morning hours at his Watergate office.
Meanwhile, Deegan, who secretly tape-recorded dozens of conversations with Harke and Hsu during which Deegan was allegedly guaranteed $7,000 a month in financial interests, spent the day in Ocean City in an effort to avoid reporters.
Prince George's County Executive Lawrence Hogan said Deegan would return to his job as an assistant to the director of licenses and permits "in a few days -- after [the investigation] has stopped being news."
Sources have said that Deegan cooperated with an FBI investigation for three months by pretending to be interested in an alleged proposal by Hsu that Deegan, facilitate the purchase of several apartment projects in Prince George's, including federally subsidized Baber Village and Central Gardens apartments.
Hsu, who already owns the Town and County apartments near Baber Village and Central Gardens, frequently has been cited for housing code violations at his projects in Prince George's and the District of Columbia.
University of Maryland officials requested an attorney general's opinion on whether Hsu could be dismissed from his professors's job in 1977, after he was convicted of perjury by a D.C. court. The conviction later was overturned on a technicality.
Sachs said yesterday the earlier opinion found Hsu, who has taught at Maryland since 1967, could not lose his job unless he was accused of impropriety related to his teaching work or unless there was a finding against him of "moral turpitude."
"We will keep in touch with the attorney general and follow his rulings and guidance," said university president John S. Toll yesterday.
Conroy said that if Sachs also found in the new opinion that Hsu could not legally be suspended from his job, he would introduce a bill in the state legislature to allow the University to act against the landlord.