A federal grand jury has issued a fresh subpoena to a Maryland crime control agency once overseen by then-Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, indicating that a federal probe of the agency has continued after Townsend's unsuccessful run for governor.
The subpoena, dated Jan. 10, seeks all documents since 1998 relating to "the exceeding of . . . administrative costs allowed" under grant programs administered by the U.S. Justice Department. It also seeks e-mails sent and received since 1998 by 18 state workers, including the agency's director, Stephen Amos, and former director Michael Sarbanes, who later served as Townsend's deputy chief of staff.
The subpoenas suggest that prosecutors are trying to determine whether Amos and others improperly used federal crime-fighting funds to pay the agency's administrative costs. Documents show that portions of federal grants were used to hire at least 70 employees at the direction of the crime control office, including 39 people who report directly to Amos's Towson headquarters.
George Ludington, a spokesman for the agency, known as the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention, would not comment on the subpoena, saying only that the agency "will remain responsive" to any request from federal officials.
Vickie E. LeDuc, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio, also declined to comment. Grand jury investigations are secret by law.
DiBiagio launched the investigation last spring, as Townsend (D) was campaigning for governor. The crime office was responsible for implementing many of Townsend's crime-fighting initiatives, which formed much of her record as lieutenant governor.
After the probe came to light in July, Townsend dismissed it as "political garbage" cooked up by a Republican prosecutor in league with her GOP opponent, then-U.S. Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. DiBiagio won his appointment with Ehrlich's recommendation. Ehrlich said he believed that DiBiagio had uncovered a "political slush fund" fueled with federal grant money and "dedicated to Townsend's election."
In November, Ehrlich won the governor's race. Until yesterday, there was little sign that the probe was continuing, leading some Democrats to speculate that it had indeed been motivated by a desire to damage Townsend's campaign.