Maryland officials investigating the now-defunct State Games are questioning a $50,000 expenditure by the state Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration for materials promoting the games.
The anti-drug agency spent the money in November 1989 to buy glow-in-the-dark souvenirs and other materials promoting the State Games, records show.
At least some of the expenditures were approved by James E. Narron, who directed the State Games project for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene while serving as director of its affiliated Maryland State Games Foundation.
Narron and his supervisor, Deputy Secretary John Staubitz Jr., were forced to resign from the department in December after state auditors identified more than $460,000 in questionable spending by the State Games program and its affiliated nonprofit foundation.
The auditor's report has prompted a criminal investigation by the Maryland Attorney General's Office.
Payments for the souvenirs and promotional materials were sent to East West Promotions at a post office box in the West Friendship section of Howard County, state records show. No listing for the company could be found yesterday in state corporation or tax records.
A U.S. postal official at the West Friendship station said the Postal Service is prohibited by law from identifying the owner of a specific post office box.
State auditors for the General Assembly questioned several purchases of souvenirs, such as glow-in-the-dark necklaces, by the Maryland State Games Foundation in a report issued Dec. 21. The report noted that the foundation spent $15,337 on the items from Dec. 5, 1988, to Sept. 12, 1990.
Narron told auditors that the souvenirs were usually given away, but in some cases items were sold to the public, the report said.
Narron could not be reached yesterday for comment.
The report also said some souvenirs were sold by a health department employee at an Ocean City amusement park last summer in an effort to publicize the State Games, a state athletic program that state officials hoped would helped lure U.S. Olympic events to Maryland.
The auditors found records showing souvenir sales of $4,016, the report said.
Although the sales took place from May 25 to Sept. 3 last year, the money was not deposited until Nov. 8. A health department employee explained the delay by telling auditors that he kept the money in an Ocean City condominium apartment leased by the foundation during the summer and then put the money in the trunk of his car.
The employee told the auditors that the "car was involved in an accident which prevented the trunk from being opened," the report said.