A niece of Robert L. Green, president of the University of the District of Columbia, was hired as a clerk in the mayor's executive office a month after Green took office in 1983, District officials confirmed yesterday.
Denise Elarms was hired in October 1983 by then D.C. Secretary Dwight S. Cropp, who about the same time also awarded a $10,000 consulting contract to Cassandra A. Simmons, a longtime associate of Green, and a few months later hired Alma A. Brown, wife of UDC board chairman Ronald H. Brown, for a $43,410-a-year position. Cropp subsequently became a university vice president.
UDC Trustee Joseph Webb in a letter to U.S. Attorney Joseph DiGenova yesterday raised questions about the employment of an unnamed niece of Green's and called for an investigation of the UDC administration and the board of trustees.
UDC officials, who have said there were no improprieties in the hiring of Simmons and Alma Brown, said they would have to study Webb's letter before commenting extensively on a number of questions it raises. Gilbert Maddox, a UDC spokesman, said there was no prohibition against the employment of Green's niece.
"What's wrong with that?" Maddox said.
Cropp hired Elarms to work in a secretarial position, according to Betty Smith, deputy D.C. Secretary. Elarms initially was employed part-time while she was attending classes at UDC, university sources said. She currently is a fulltime employe earning $11,566 a year in the Secretary's office and works under Mary Wilmot on special ceremonies and events, government sources said.
The D.C. Secretary is appointed by the mayor and functions as an arm of the administration, operating within the mayor's suite of offices.
Elarms, who is a niece of Green's wife Lettie, lived with the Greens briefly after moving to Washington from San Francisco, according to university sources. "Just for the record, she is paid with Office of the Secretary funds and I am quite satisfied with her work," Deputy D.C. Secretary Smith said.
In Webb's eight-page letter, he identified about 20 areas of possible wrongdoing at UDC and said he was requesting a federal review in part because he believes the 15-member board of trustees has failed to take necessary actions to stem the two-month-old controversy over Green's expenditures of university funds.
Webb said yesterday that he was "not making any accusations, just asking questions."
In the letter, Webb raised questions about the transfer of the UDC endowment fund last spring from American Security Bank to the National Bank of Washington; the employment of Alma Brown; the use of public money for furnishings at the UDC-owned president's residence; Green's use of university funds to make political contributions to two D.C. City Council members and alleged "cronyism" in the transfer of D.C. government employes to the UDC staff.
In addition, Webb questioned why UDC hired two consultants to develop a "General Ledger System" for the university when UDC is now paying $60,000 to a major accounting firm to perform the same task.
Green hired W. Louis Stone and Maxie C. Jackson and paid them about $28,000 in consulting fees for work that included planning the university's general ledger system. Stone, now a UDC assistant vice president earning $61,000 and Jackson, the UDC provost and vice president for academic affairs earning $71,000, are former colleagues of Green at Michigan State University, where he served as dean.
A copy of the seven-page contract with Alexander Grant & Co., obtained by The Washington Post, shows that UDC hired the firm earlier this year to plan a financial system that is integrated with the District government's Financial Management System.
Webb also raised questions about the employment of a "male law student" and a "female model" in full-time positions at UDC who, he suggested, "are rarely seen . . . "
Webb said he was referring to Theodore E. Trabue Jr. and Marva Thomas, who work for Cropp. UDC officials have said that Trabue, a student at Howard University Law School, has arranged a full 40-hour work schedule around his classes in keeping with university regulations. Trabue, a program analyst, earns $26,290, according to personnel documents obtained by The Post.
Thomas, a staff assistant who earns $30,195, is codifying university regulations and has reported to work faithfully, according to UDC officials. Green, in a report last month to the board of trustees, said he recruited Thomas from Michigan State and had used university funds to bring her to Washington for a job interview. Sources here and in Michigan said Thomas was a student of Green and had been a friend of one of his nephews in East Lansing.
Finally, Webb asked in his letter, "Have financial records of UDC been purged, altered and destroyed?" UDC officials, who conceded some records were moved from the cashier's office to Assistant Vice President Stone's office, said that no university records have been tampered with.
DiGenova said his office had received the letter. "It contains very serious allegations and the matter is under active review," he said.