Montgomery County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist has refused to accept the resignation of the consultant he hired to investigate favoritism in the county's Department of Liquor Control.
The consultant, leonard I. Colodny, asked Gilchrist to release him from his contract because the county executive's top aides allegedly asked him to revise sales figures so that Schenley Industries, Inc., a New York-based liquor company with ties to the Gilchrist administration, did not appear to receive as much business from the county as it actually receives.
Gilchrist, who previously denied there was any attempt at undue influence by his aides, said yesterday he refused Colodny's resignation because "he has provided part of the data required, but not all of it."
Colodny said he will continue working until his contract ends in a few weeks so that he is not accused of breach of contract.
The Department of Liquor Control administers the only county monopoly on the wholesale and retail sale of liquor, wine and beer in the nation.
Colodny, a former Prince George's County liquor wholesaler, was hired as a consultant in May after reporters began making inquiries about the close connection between present and former employes of the Department of Liquor Control and liquor distillers, particularly Schenley.
Schenley's former executive vice president is Charles Buscher, Gilchrist's adviser on the Department of Liquor Control. The deputy director of the Department is Frank Orifici, a former Schenley salesman who is related by marriage to Buscher. Philip Buscher, a relative of Orifici by marriage, is a Schenely saleman who handles sales to the county.
Last month a story in The Washington Post showed that Schenley has no products on the list of the 20 most popular items in the county-run liquor stores, yet it ranks second among all liquor companies in terms both of numbers of cases and dollar volume of liquor sold to the county.
Last month, after a reporter asked county officials for Colodny's figures on purchases from Schenley, Colodny maintained that Gilchrist's aide, Gerry Evans, asked him to "rethink" his figures showing that Schenley gets 10.46 percent of the county's liquor business, nearly three times as much as it gets from other jurisdictions.
Colodny said Evans wanted the figures to conform to figures computed by former Schenley salesman Orifici showing that Schenley only gets 5.5 percent of the county's business. Colodny maintains that Orifici used an incorrect methods to arrive at that figure.
Earlier this week, Colodny released another report, showing that the Department of Liquor Control has encouraged sales of a scotch made by Schenley, J.W. Dant, by refusing to purchase certain good lower-priced brands of scotch for the county's restaurants and country clubs. Jacquin's one of the distillers of a lower-priced scotch, tried to sell it to the department last year but was unsuccessful, Colodny said.
One of the effects of keeping out lower priced brands, Colodny said, was that the county has purchased far more of Schenley's J.W. Dant scotch than any other region of its size.
The county purchases 3,905 cases each year of J.W. Dant scotch -- about 800 more cases than the state of Pennsylvania, which has a population 10 times the size of Montgomery, and 2,600 more cases than the state of West Virginia, which has a population three times the size of Montgomery.
Police sources said that agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are investigating whether Schenley has used questionable practices to promote J.W. Dant Montgomery County. The Department of Liquor Control is not a target of the investigation, according to an agent for the bureau.