A detailed investigation by a Montgomery County board questions the behavior of a former aide to County Executive Charles Gilchrist who obtained a controversial $2,000 loan and later made three cash transactions that, the report says, "resulted in no direct trail of repayment."
The aide, Gerard Evans, obtained the loan from Gilchrist's political associate Charles Buscher after having played a role in obtaining a job for a relative of Buscher's in the county department of liquor control. According to the report, Evans says he subsequently repaid the loan, but in cash.
"While the board cannot and does not conclude that the loan to Mr. Evans was in return for Mr. Evans' actions, the board does note that the timing of the various events could give rise to an appearance of impropriety."
The report by the Merit System Protection Board was the result of a seven-month investigation into the way Frank Orifici, Buscher's nephew, was hired as depty director of the department of liquor control.
The report charged among other things that "there was improper interference in the screening and examination process by the county executive's office." The investigation stemmed from a complaint filed almost two years ago by Irwin Feldman, a liquor salesman who applied for the job Orifici got but who was not granted an interview.
The three-volume report, which was presented to the Montgomery County Council this week, has not officially been released by the council because it contains personnel information.
According to the report, Evans knew that Buscher would give him a loan -- to be used as a down payment for a house -- as early as December 1979, several weeks before Evans selected the men who interviewed Orifici for the deputy director job.
That month, according to the report, Evans told a real estate agent, Jeanne Harris, that his friend Buscher could give Evans' mother the money and his mother would then give it to him.
Buscher gave Evans a check for $2,000 on Jan. 10, 1980.
Evans deposited the check in his checking account and then gave the real estate agent a $2,000 check dated the same day, 19 days before Orifici was interviewed
Eventually, there was a dispute over the terms of the house contract, the contract was canceled, and Evans "asked that all original documents be returned to him regarding the contractual arrangements, the original promissory note and other documents."
Evans then contacted a loan officer, Gail Jutkowitz of the Suburban Coastal Corporation, for financing. Evans told her that the down payment on the home came from his savings account. When she asked Evans if any part of the down payment was borrowed, according to the report, Evans said no.
However, that loan also fell through.
Evans and Buscher then agreed that Evans could use the $2,000 to buy an engagement ring for his fiance rather than for a down payment on a house.
Although the loan was due in December 1980, Evans said he made the first repayment in Cotober 1980, the same month that the grand jury began an investigation of the county liquor department where Orifici worked.
Evans said he made the second repayment on Dec. 31, 1980, one month after The Washingtn Post published a number of stories about the way Evans' helped his friends get county jobs despite merit job regulations.
Evans obtained the money to pay back $1,500 of the loan from a credit union last December. But his loan application did not state that the $1,500 outstanding balance was owed to Charles Buscher -- a violation of federal law, according to the report.
The credit union gave Evans the money in a check, but Evans did not have the check made out to Buscher. Instead, he told the board, he cashed the check and gave Buscher the cash. Earlier, Evans had repaid $500 in cash to Buscher.
At the time he received the $1,500, Buscher gave back the promissory note he had been given by Evans. Evans, however, has not been able to produce the promissory note.
Evans could not be reached for comment yesterday, but according to the report he told the board: "It is inconsistent for me to try and hide the money I was paying back to him when the reason I was paying it back was that I knew some day it would be out and I wanted to be sure I paid it back."
He added that he paid Buscher in cash instead of by check because he could not be certain his checking account would contain enough money when the check was cashed.