Aides of Montgomery County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist may have violated county law earlier this year by offering a politial friend, Leonard I. Colodny, two merit jobs that he did not apply for, according to a deposition that Colodny will release today.
Colodny charges that Gerry Evans, a Gilchrist aide, offered him two merit jobs -- deputy director of civil defense and assistant manager of a county liquor store -- last February according to sources familiar with the deposition. That same month the county's chief administrative officer, Robert Wilson, also offered Colodny a job as assistant manager of a county liquor store, the deposition says.
Colodny declined the job offeres but three months later Gilchrist gave him a job as consultant for the county Department of Liquor Control. Gilchrist fired him from his consulting job in August after Colodny told reporters about the department's questionable purchasing practices.
Under county law, merit jobs must be advertised and the county personnel office must choose persons eligible for the job from applications submitted to the office. The department head then selects the person from a list of several applicants. The basis for selection must be qualifications.
The deposition describing the job offers is a 30-page document that Colodny dictated to a notary public, Daniel J. Siegel, while under oath in Silver Spring yesterday.
Colodny's charges come at a time when a Montgomery County grand jury is investigating allegations of bribes and questionable purchasing practices in the county liquor agency, which acts as the sole wholesaler and retailer of liquor in the county.
Sources close to the grand jury said yesterday that the grand jury expects to look into the job offers as part of its investigation.
Colodny, a former liquor wholesaler who was chairman of the Prince George's County human relations commission, was a friend of Gilchrist and Evans. Colodny's mother, Ethel Colodny, is a precinct chairman in eastern Montgomery County and a supporter of Gilchrist.
But a rift developed in their friendship last year after Colodny was turned down for the job he sought as deputy director of the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control. The job -- a merit job -- was given to Frank Orifici, the nephew by marriage of Gilchrist's adviser on the liquor agency, Charles Buscher.
In a telephone conversation on Nov. 21, Evans allegedly told Colodny he wasn't getting the job because State Comptroller Louis I. Goldstein had threatened to make trouble for the liquor agency if he did, according to the deposition.
On Jan. 23, at a meeting with Gilchrist and Evans in Gilchrist's office, Colodny threatened to tell the press about Goldstein's alleged interference in the county merit system, according to Colodny. Gilchrist then supposedly offered Colodny another merit job -- assistant chief of the stores division of the Department of Liquor Control, according to Colodny, who told county council members about Gilchrist's alleged job offer two months ago.
Gilchrist, Evans and Wilson have denied offering merit jobs to Colodny.
On Feb. 27, according to the deposition, Evans phoned Colodny at home and told him that he could not give him the job Gilchrist promised, assistant chief of the liquor stores, because the job had been frozen during budget cuts. But he offered him another job: assistant manager of a county liquor store. Evans allegedly told Colodny that Gilchrist had told him to offer him the job. Evans reportedly added that Gilchrist had ordered him to "work something out" to move Colodny to a better job in the liquor department "once he gets on board."
Colodny then replied that he did not know how that would be possible.
Later in the conversation, Colodny told Evans that he did not want the job of assistant manager of a liquor store, since he had had such a position 20 years ago and now wanted a more challenging job. Colodny said he wanted to wait until the other job Gilchrist allegedly promised him -- assistant chief of the county liquor stores -- was unfrozen.
Later that day, Colodny received another phone call from Evans, in which Evans told Colodny that he did not know when the job he wanted would be available. But Evans had another job offer, according to sources familiar with the deposition.
Evans reportedly told Colodny that he had a job for him that would be a little more challenging than working in liquor: a job as assistant director of civil defense for the county.
After Evans hung up, Wilson phoned Colodny and told him that he could not give him the job he wanted. Wilson then asked Colodny if he was interested in one of the jobs Evans had suggested, assistant manager of a county liquor store.
Colodny said he was not.