The Maryland Attorney General's Office has opened a criminal investigation into allegations of improprieties involving the management of money used by a state fitness program.

Two state officials who helped organize and run the Maryland State Games have been dismissed in a move that one state official said was related to the allegations.

State Health Secretary Adele Wilzack sought and received the resignation of her deputy for operations, John Staubitz, on Friday. Wilzack also dismissed James Narron, the health department's director of special projects and chairman of the Maryland State Games.

Those games are an annual event promoting physical fitness. State officials had hoped the games would act as a springboard in Maryland's attempt to lure the U.S. Olympic Festival to the state. Before his departure, Staubitz was overseeing the state's bid for the national 10-day festival, considered a warm-up for athletes vying to compete in the Olympic Games.

Maryland is among the finalists for one of the festivals between the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.

Neither Staubitz nor Narron could be reached for comment. Staubitz's father said his son was out of town.

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. (D) declined yesterday to elaborate on the details of the alleged improprieties, first reported in the Baltimore Sun, other than to say the probe centers on the "management of money . . . on what happened to money in the operating budget." He said the investigation is only a week old.

"I can say the allegations have nothing whatsoever to do with the bid for the festival itself or the effort to get it here," Curran said.

Curran also would not reveal the source of the allegations or identify who is being accused of wrongdoing.

"We really haven't gotten far enough in our investigation to know who is and who is not involved, so I don't want to identify anyone," he said.