A Cheverly Town Council member has been accused by a town ethics committee of misusing more than $600 in public funds paid to him to cover expenses during a Maryland Municipal League convention in Ocean City, Md., in June.
The three-member committee has presented to the council a report on hotel expenditures by Dr. Francis George, who serves on the council and is president of the league.
According to the report, the town issued George a $748 check to cover room charges and other expenses at the convention, held June 16-20. During the convention, George wrote a personal check to the Carousel Hotel for $627.98 that has not cleared the bank, the report said.
Adjustments to the account leave George's debt to the hotel at $670.16, the report said.
In an interview, George, who has been a Town Council member for 5 1/2 years, responded to the report by saying that the money advanced to him by the town was put into a joint account and that "the party I shared the account with withdrew the funds without my knowledge . . . . " He would not reveal with whom he shared the account.
George said he did not know that the check had not cleared until the hotel contacted the town office in October for help in resolving the bill.
George, a radiology consultant, said the Carousel has since sent him an itemized bill that was incorrect. George said he has had trouble contacting officials at the hotel but plans to pay the debt once an "accurate" bill is drawn up.
Officials at the Carousel Hotel would not comment on the status of George's account.
In December, town Mayor Alan Dwyer asked the committee, whose members are appointed by the mayor and council, to look into the matter.
"I tried to solve this privately. I spoke to him several times about it. But if I let it drag on too long, it would put us in the position of looking as if we were trying to cover it up," Dwyer said.
In the report dated Jan. 4, the committee recommended that the council censure George by publicizing the matter in the town newsletter. The committee suggested that George pay the town 1 percent monthly interest on the debt and that his salary and expense reimbursement be withheld until the hotel bill, plus the interest, is paid.
"Regardless of council member George's personal circumstances . . . it is our opinion that he has had personal use of (Cheverly) funds since June 18, 1985, when he submitted an insufficiently funded check to the Carousel Hotel," the report said.
The Town Council is scheduled to hold a special meeting tomorrow to discuss the matter.
George said the report was an effort "on the part of the mayor and certain council members to embarrass and discredit me because of political rivalries."
Dwyer denied that his decision to request the report was motivated by political differences.