A Southeast advisory neighborhood commissioner has been charged with felony theft after he allegedly wrote 63 checks, most to himself, totaling $15,814 on the commission's bank account.
A D.C. grand jury is investigating the case involving Charles B. Anderson Jr., 33, who in 1979 was elected to Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8C, which represents the Congress Heights area of Ward 8. He served as the group's vice president through 1984, and also was treasurer in 1983 and 1984. Anderson is now a commissioner for ANC 8E, the city's newest ANC created in 1985 after redistricting of the Ward 8 ANC.
From Dec. 30, 1983, to Dec. 7, 1984, Anderson wrote 58 checks payable to himself, ranging from $50 to $842, according to D.C. Auditor Otis Troupe. He also wrote five other checks totaling $1,782, including one payable to a credit card account, according to Troupe. Anderson "has never provided the D.C. auditor with any receipts explaining how that money was spent," said Harold Walker, deputy city auditor.
The auditor's office, which oversees ANC spending, referred the case to the D.C. police Special Investigations Branch in August after repeatedly asking Anderson to explain the expenditures without success.
Under city law each check written on an ANC account must be signed by the treasurer and another ANC officer, Troupe said. All 63 checks written by Anderson contained only his signature, according to city auditor records.
"If it alleged misuse of city funds is so true, then why has the investigation been going on since 1984 and why has the grand jury not done anything yet?" Anderson said last week. "My comment is there's no comment because this is not even an important issue to me."
His lawyer, Peter Mann, said Anderson was arrested Oct. 31 and was charged ith felony theft in connection with the unexplained checks.
"I have talked to the U.S. attorney's office and they told me that they are in the process of investigating the case . . . . At this juncture the case is highly circumstantial and I think the U.S. attorney's office would not disagree with that," Mann said.
The U.S. attorney's office has refused to comment on the case.
The District has 37 ANCs that advise the city government on issues affecting their neighborhood, such as liquor license applications for neighborhood bars and zoning applications. For each of the last three fiscal years the city has spent about $1.07 million on the ANCs. Each ANC is allocated an average of $20,000, but the amount varies depending on the size of the ANC. The city's 323 ANC commissioners serve two-year terms and are unpaid.
In fiscal 1984, ANC 8C received $21,796 from the city, of which $15,814 is unaccounted for.
Troupe said that in the fall of 1984 his office "noticed financial irregularities in the regular course of financial oversight that we exercise over all the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions." Each ANC must submit a report every three months of how funds are spent. The city audits ANC records every two years.
Anderson failed to submit a quarterly report for ANC 8C in September 1984, according to Troupe and court records. The city refused to release funds to ANC 8C until a quarterly report was filed, according to court records and staff members in the city auditor's office.
Troupe said his office had several conversations with Anderson asking for the quarterly reports. Then on May 8, 1985, Troupe sent Anderson a letter requesting explanations of several checks. "If an expenditure is made without required authorization in the minutes, the amount will be considered a personal expense of the treasurer," Troupe said in the letter.
Anderson asked for an extension until June but failed to meet the new deadline, Troupe said.
"In a letter dated June 25, 1985, which was received in this office on July 15, 1985, Mr. Anderson responded but failed to address our request for documentation," Troupe said in a letter to the police department.
In that same letter, dated Aug. 6, 1985, and sent to Lt. Brooks Kelley of the D.C. police Special Investigations Branch, Troupe said: "I am requesting that an appropriate investigation be initiated to determine whether Mr. Charles Anderson's handling of ANC 8C funds involve embezzlement or misappropriation of taxpayer funds."
"We feel we gave the ANC ample opportunity to provide information on documents that we felt were unsubstantiated," Troupe said.
Mann, Anderson's lawyer, said that "Anderson voluntarily took over many of the responsibilities of the other ANC 8C commissioners because others were not interested," said Mann. "He believed he was acting in the public interest and in the best community interests that the ANC serves."
"We feel some people involved with the ANCs have a personal vendetta against Mr. Anderson," he added.
Anderson was convicted in Maryland of armed robbery in 1969 and sentenced to eight years in prison. He served 21 months before being paroled Feb. 2, 1971, according to court and prison records. In 1975 he was convicted of selling narcotics, a misdemeanor, and was fined $10 but not jailed, according to court records.
According to court records, Anderson has tested positive on two court-required urine tests conducted in November and December of 1985, while he was released on his own recognizance in connection with the check charges. A positive test means drugs or alcohol or both were found in the urine sample.