Two indicted Prince George's County parks department employees are back on their jobs at full pay after the agency decided it had insufficient evidence to substantiate criminal charges that they helped steal agency funds.
Albert J. Simons, a $63,000-a-year parks department deputy, and Michael Robey, a $28,000-a-year welder, were reinstated in comparable jobs by Acting Parks Director Mary Godfrey after the agency found it had "no probable cause for dismissal," according to Andrea Davey, a spokeswoman for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, which oversees the county parks department.
Simons and Robey were indicted Nov. 1 along with Robey's father, former parks director Hugh B. "Reds" Robey, on state charges that they participated in an elaborate scheme to steal $29,232 from the agency by awarding a contract for work that was never completed.
Davey said that after a month-long evaluation, Godfrey notified the two employees that there was "insufficient information available internally" to warrant dismissal under the agency's rules.
However, she said Godfrey warned the two that they could face dismissal if convicted of the criminal charges.
Hugh Robey, who once ranked as the commission's highest-paid employee with a $110,000-a-year salary, retired as acting director after 40 years with the commission on the day after his indictment was announced.
The subject of a two-year investigation by State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli, Robey had been retained by the agency while the investigation was underway.
The indictment charges that Hugh Robey, his son and Simons plotted to steal agency funds by awarding a contract for construction of a greenhouse at Randall's Farm in Upper Marlboro to a company that submitted fraudulent bills for the work.
When the missing funds were discovered in an internal audit, Hugh Robey, who also served as supervisor of the county parks police, allegedly attempted to cover up the theft by soliciting a $30,000 bribe from another contractor.
The bribe money was then funneled to the greenhouse contractor and used to repay the commission for the uncompleted work, the indictment alleged.
Simons was Hugh Robey's longtime deputy. He headed the department's maintenance division and approved payment of the greenhouse construction funds, the indictment said.
Michael Robey is one of three Robey children who hold jobs with the agency. Investigators said he also was president of the Frederick-based company, G&M Hitech Metal Specialty Inc., which allegedly was used to funnel money to the greenhouse contractor.
Michael Robey's firm also received several small parks contracts to weld metal hinges onto picnic tables. The contracts were awarded although Hugh Robey served as a director of the firm, an apparent violation of the commission's ethics policies.
Davey said that Simons has been reinstated as maintenance supervisor of the Louise F. Cosca Regional Park in Clinton. Michael Robey is now a maintenance worker at the department's shooting center in Glendale.
A nationwide search for Hugh Robey's replacement is pending while the agency undergoes an extensive outside audit, Davey said.