The District's chief alcoholic beverage control investigator "exhibited poor judgment" while investigating a Northwest nightclub, but he has been cleared to return to his post with some limitations after spending several weeks on administrative leave, the city's personnel office has found.
Maurice Evans II was placed on leave with pay Feb. 13, after the D.C. inspector general determined that Evans had coached the owner of a Georgia Avenue nightclub in late 2001 and early 2002 on how to get around city regulations after the business was closed for violations.
A subsequent review by the personnel office, in conjunction with the corporation counsel's office, found that while Evans showed poor judgment, it was "not enough to warrant termination," according to a Feb. 27 letter from interim personnel director Judy D. Banks to Maria M. Delaney, director of the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration.
In the letter, Banks recommended that Evans be returned from leave, given a letter of warning and placed on a "performance improvement plan" for 90 days.
Delaney sent a letter the following day to Evans, saying that he was expected to return to work this past Monday. He would receive the same salary, but his duties "will be limited at this time," Delaney's letter said.
Evans also would be given at least one written warning for his judgment, Delaney wrote, and possible other warnings, including one for his use of the government e-mail system.
Both Delaney and a spokeswoman for Banks declined to comment. A message placed at the office of Evans's attorney was not immediately returned yesterday.
D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4) -- whose ward contains the Macombo Lounge, a nude dancing club on Georgia Avenue -- was outraged that Evans was cleared to return.
"I couldn't disagree more," Fenty said. "This guy was impeding an investigation by one of our agencies for a business he was supposed to be reviewing himself."
Evans had not returned to his position yesterday, Fenty said.
In September 2001, Fenty asked D.C. Inspector General Charles C. Maddox to begin an investigation into Macombo based on information from a Health Department inspector. Fenty said the inspector told him that after the club's kitchen failed inspection, Evans advised the manager that she could install a microwave to comply with city regulations.
In a letter to Maddox, Fenty also said that on at least three occasions from July 2001 to January 2002, Evans called the health inspector to find out what the lounge could do to reopen. The inspector general's report said that after the Health Department suspended the lounge's restaurant license, the club's manager called Evans.
Evans "contradicted the findings . . . to the manager, advised the manager not to comply with the inspecting requirements, and advised of alternative means to comply with the applicable regulations, which effectively circumvented the requirements" of the Health Department report, the inspector general said.
Macombo's operating license is under review.