Richard Lannucci today holds a $30,000-a-year merit job in the Prince George's County government because of the unusual intervention of County Executive Lawrence Hogan in a hiring process that by law is supposed to be left to the personnel department.
Lannucci, a 4-year-old retired Air Force captain, was one of dozen of county Republicans who ran with Hogan in 1978 on a GOP slate that lose every race except the one for county executive. Last year, whenever Hogan encountered Lannucci, the executive would say: "Dick, I'd like to get you involved in the county government."
The story of how the ambition was realized -- with Lannucci landing a job as second-in-command at the Prince George's County Hospital Commission -- is one of personnel lists that mysteriously vanished, friendly calls from Hogan's office to the commission's director and, in the end, seeming disregard for the county's merit hiring regualtions.
Although the hospital commission's personnel department is required by law to process all applicants for merit post, it did not receive an application from lannucci until the day he was hired. Infact, the personnel department never heard Lannucci's name until he was appointed and never included his name on the official list from which a nominee for the job was to be selected by the director.
Lannucci's name was inserted into the process only when Hogan informed his aides that Lannucci was looking for a job in the health field. The aides then called the hospital commission's director, William Parker, and suggested that he look over a resume they had for Lannucci, according to interviews and commission memos.
Hogan and his aides say they did not put pressure on Parker to hire Lannucci. "Mr. Hogan knew (Lannucci) had extensive experience in the hospital field and simply suggested that Mr. Parker take a look," said Iry Smith, Hogan's assistant for health issues.
Added Iannucci: "I received the job on my own credentials. I suppose some people could think the only reason I got it was becuse of that (the political connection to Hogan)." o
Hospital commission director Parker, who made the final decision to hire Iannucci, was on vacation last week and could not be reached for comment.
Last Aug. 13, the hospital commission advertised a job opening for a nonappointive merit position -- assistant executive director. When the job listing closed on the 17th, the commission's personnel department had received four applications. According to department sources, Iannucci was not among those applicants.
After processing the four applications, the personnel department sent Parker an official referral list, as commission hiring procedures require. The referral list noted that the four applicants were qualified for the post. It was from that list that Parker was to make a final selection.
Several things then occurred that changed the normal procedure. First, Parker added the name of James Harvey, a health administrator from Balitmore, to the list. Next, Hogan stepped into the merit hiring process and in effect vetoed Harvey's nomination.
"Larry interviewed Harvey and decided he wasn't his man," said one Hogan aide. "He (Hogan) got involved in the whole thing because this is a very important position."
It was at this point that Smith, Hogan's health aide, contacted Iannucci and said there was a job opening he might he interested in Iannucci, who was a hospital services specialist during his 27 years in the Air Force, was then working as director of material management at Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton.
There are differing accounts as to why Iannucci was eager to leave that job. He said it was because the hospital administration was not giving him enough authority. Several sources at the hospital, however, said Iannucci was told to look for another job because, by their account, he was overpurchasing equipment and throwing out equipment that could have been used.
According to Smith, it was sometime in September that Hogan told him to forward Iannucci's name to Parker. "I told him (Parker) to see if Iannucci was qualified," Smith recalled. "He seemed as qualified as any of the others." Smith and Hogan said they had never heard the allegations that Iannucci was forced out of his job at the hospital.
On Oct. 9, Parker interviewed Iannucci. Six weeks later, after conferring with Hogan's office, Parker contacted the personnel board and revealed that he was going to hire Iannucci. He also then told personnel officials that he had misplaced the official referral list that had been sent to him in August.
This was the first time personnel officials became aware that Iannucci was interested in the job and being considered for it. Source at the commission said that they had never even seen an application from Iannucci.
Parker told the commission he would forward the necessary paperwork on the selection of Iannucci, who he called the best qualified person for the job.
One week later, the personnel department received an Iannucci application from Parker. It was dated July 6, which was one full month before the job had been advertised and long before Smith ever mentioned Iannucci to Parker. Along with the application, the commission got a new referral list -- drawn up by Parker -- which now included Iannucci's name.
On that list, under a selection labeled "Reason for Decision," Parker wrote: "Applicant's file sent to the office of the County Executive. Position offered on the basis of 20 years of top level decision making in military hospitals."
On Nov. 19, 1979, Richard Iannucci offcially started his $30,000-a-year job as second-in-command at the Prince George's County Hospital Commission.