Prince George's County Councilman Anthony J. Cicoria, awaiting trial in the fall on charges of theft and tax evasion, has reversed an earlier decision and now says he will seek reelection.
The announcement, made in a letter to his constituents dated last Friday, comes less than two months after Cicoria declared that he would not seek reelection to the council or run for any other public office.
"The people have changed my mind," the Hyattsville Democrat said yesterday. "So many people have urged me to run and continue the fine constituent service that I've done. That's what has always made me change my mind -- the people."
Cicoria blamed his legal problems on what he termed "Gestapo-style" tactics used by the state prosecutor who brought criminal charges against him.
Also yesterday, Cicoria called on the U.S. Attorney's Office in Baltimore to investigate allegations of misconduct by court officials who were overseeing a county grand jury investigation of land deals by the county.
Cicoria has scheduled a news conference for next Tuesday -- the filing deadline for candidates -- where he said he will make his formal announcement and "have more details about my run for office."
The decision to announce his plans in a letter to constitutents came after what he said was a "long process."
The two-term council member and his wife, Catherine, are awaiting trial in October on charges of theft and tax evasion in connection with the alleged siphoning of $64,000 in campaign funds for personal use.
Both Cicoria and his wife face three counts of filing false state income tax returns and one count of theft. Catherine Cicoria also faces seven additional counts of perjury.
Cicoria, who has served in his county post for eight years, has denied the allegations. In his letter to constituents, he accused Maryland State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli of using "Gestapo-style" tactics to bring charges against him that were "political" in nature.
"The harassment by State Prosecutor Montanarelli and his associates has been underhanded and illegal at the very lest," Cicoria said in the letter.
Montanarelli could not be reached for comment yesterday.
"I'm looking foward to the trial. Everyone knows that these charges are political," Cicoria said. "The trial will show how political these charges are."
Late last month, prosecutors dropped two charges of perjury against Cicoria.
The next week, liquor officials in Florida said they were going to deny Cicoria a liquor license because he falsified an answer on a affidavit. Cicoria, who was granted a 90-day temporary license in April, answered "no" to a question asking if he had ever been charged with a crime. At the time, Cicoria and his wife were under indictment on theft and tax charges.
But Cicoria, who has a strong following among senior citizens, said he doesn't think the charges and controversy surrounding him will jeopardize his chances of winning reelection. "I've got a good record. And I'll campaign on the record," Cicoria said. "And I'm going to win."
To date, four other Democrats have announced their plans to seek Cicoria's seat in the September 11 primary: Takoma Park Mayor Stephen Del Giudice, former Mount Rainier Town Council member Doyle Niemann and University Park Mayor Margaret Malino. On the Republican side, J. Lee Ball of Riverdale has said he will run.
Staff writer Marilyn W. Thompson contributed to this report.