Alexandria Commonwealth's Attorney John E. Kloch said yesterday he found "no evidence of criminal activity" by Sheriff Michael E. Norris in connection with allegations that he misused city funds to throw four parties in the city sheriff's department.
In a letter to Alexandria Public Safety Director Charles T. Strobel, Kloch said he reached the conclusion after reviewing the findings of a Virginia State Police investigation. Kloch also said that none of the funds "were in any way used for the sheriff's personal benefit in a manner which would constitute a crime."
Kloch's conclusion did not please City Councilman Donald C. Casey, a Democrat who has been an outspoken critic of the Republican sheriff and who was a driving force behind the investigation.
"Apparently since it was city funds and not state funds, we have a double standard," Casey said. "It was never in question that he had falsified his own records and used city funds for improper purposes. If he was a city employe, I think the action would be firing and prosecution."
City officials asked for the state police investigation last June after a city audit showed that Norris had asked for reimbursement for a Christmas party and three job-related luncheons from funds earmarked for meals for deputies who worked overtime. The audit stopped short of saying whether the actions were improper or illegal.
The audit was prompted by Casey after two sheriff's deputies complained to him about the use of the funds for the four catered parties, which cost a total of $800 to $1,000.
Norris, who has denied any wrongdoing, suspended the two deputies with pay last July, saying he did so "to protect the integrity" of an internal probe he ordered into the allegations. Norris could not be reached for comment yesterday.
In the midst of the furor last June, Norris, who is an elected state official, withdrew from a proposed experimental merger of his office with Alexandria's public safety department, citing "malicious attacks leveled against me personally."
Kloch's letter also advised Strobel that the "use of funds by Sheriff Norris or his office . . . may well be the subject of further discussion insofar as policy or budgetary decisions are made."