Because of a typographical error, the name of a Prince George's County sheriff Department official was incorrectly spelled in a story appearing in yesterday's editions of the Washington Post. The correct name is Lt. Carl Yowell.
The job if sheriff, glamorized in tales of the Old West, is limited in a place like Prince George's County these days to running the jail, serving warrants and guarding courtrooms.
Don Edward Ansell, who has been the elected sheriff of Prince George's for the past seven years, has found other rewards in the job, the likes of which Marshall Dillon probably never dreamed.
Ansell has used county money to pay for most of his college education and his government-paid secretary has typed some of his term papers. Several of his deputies - working on county time, according to some of them - helped lay sod in his yard and pour cement in his backyard pool.
Many of Ansell's 260 deputies say they campaigned for his re-election in 1974 on county using county cars, with Ansell's knowledge and encouragement. Since then, the deputies say, they have been asked to attend and contribute money for two dinners in his honor and a third honoring a "deputy of the year," with no public financial accounting for any of the events. Some of the money wewnt into Ansell's own pocket, according to Ansell.
Until recently, according to more than two-dozen present members of his department, Ansell has successfully kept their loyalty through job scheduling and assignments. Those out of favor, they say, have faced specious trial board charges as well as unpleasant shifts and duties.
Ansell says he has done nothing wrong or illegal in his public career and attributes the current deputy backlash solely to his pending proposal for a separate county corrections department, which he hopes to head. He is being criticized now, he insisted during a two-hour interview with The Washington Post last week, by a large contigent of deputies who are more interested in being gun-totting cops than concerned correctional officers.
Ansell's law enforcement career, after his graduation from Washington's Coolidge High School, began with 10 years as a Maryland State Trooper, continued as a private investigator specializing in repossessing cars, and carried him into the sheriff's office. in 1970.
Ansell's statutory salary rose from $18,000 to $25,000 a year in 1975.He also has a $2,500 expense account and full-time use of a county car. The only other apparent family income in recent years has been his wife's part-time occupation as a school bus driver, accounting for $400 in 1976, Ansell said.
Nonetheless, Ansell has managed to accumulate the material, if mortgage, symbols of success. In the driveway of his split-level in the Brookwood section south of Upper Malboro, next to the family station wagon, is parked an 18-foot cabin cruiser costing $7,000. His fence-in backyard contains the pool costing $9,700, according to the county building permit.
He also owns camp site in Luray, Va., and he sends his three children to the Clinton Christian School, at a combined total anual cost of $2,800. "We don't have any money left over, very simply," Ansell said lst week.
His gross income received a boost in June 1975, when nearly 500 "Friends of Sheriff Don Ansell" jammed VFW Post 961g in Suitland Road in Morningside for what Ansell says was a surprise "testimonial" organized principally by Enid Smith and Guy Williams, two of his three appointed assistant sheriffs. Both were present during last week's interview.
Ansell reported $4,380 from that affair as "miscellaneous" personal income on his 1975 tax return, although he said he used some of that money (about $500 to $700 to pay expense such as food and rental cost for the testimonial.
"I wouldn't have known about it (the testimonial) until it was in full force it I hadn't gotten a call from a (state) senator," Ansell said. "There was an agreement that the only fund raisers would ne party fundraisers where everybody would agree to it. That's why he (the senator) was calling and asking what was going on. I didn't know what he was talking about. I stopped the sale of tickets at that point."
For $10 a ticket, those politicians, businessmen and deputies attending listened to jukebox music, and paid extra for drinks. Beef, ham and cheese was prepared for 500 people from Fairfields Farm Kitchen, a subsidiary of Marriot Corporation, at a substantially reduced cost.
Two months later, about 500 deputies and their dates attended a $50-a-couple "Sheriff's Greek Dinner" in Marlow Heights at Rector's Restaurant, whose owner is a close friend of the sheriff.
"It was nothing more than a large get together," Ansell said, with $300 left over paying for door prizes. Complains a former deputy who attended, He (Ansell) wanted to thank all deputies who worked for him, and we all had to pay $50 to have him say thanks."
The arrangements for another event, the deputy-of-the-year banquet last September at the Sheraton-Lanham, remain somewhat of a mystery. Ansell last week refused to account for it with documents except "to a grand jury." He said there were 200 crashers and he personally losts $600 on the event, "the last function I'll have for them."
A sales office employee at the hotel could not locate the contract for the event. General manager Robert O'Niell refused to discuss it. "We made arrangements through the sheriff," he said. Ansell said the hall rental cost $1,000. "You can check the Sheraton on that," he said.
Food for 500 people again come from Fairfield's Farms, at a discounted price of $734, according to the Marriott spokesman. Ansell and his aides established no special account to handle payments, and the personal check used to pay for the food bounced.
The check was written by Capt. William F. Feeney, who said it bounced before he could deposit sufficient proceeds from the event in his account. The whole thing was somewhat of a puzzlement last week to the sheriff and his aides.
"I gave him (Feeney) all the money and told him to buy the food," Williams said.
"No , you didn't gave him the money, either," Ansell said.
"I didn't give him the money?" Williams asked.
"No, you didn't ," Ansell said, "because you didn't want to give him the money."
"I did give him some," Williams said.
"Most of it," said Andsell, "come from (Maj.) Enid (Smith)."
Most of it come from her, that's right," said Williams.
"So what was taking place," Ansell said, "is she was giving (Feeney) checks . . . and he would wirte them on the food places."
The food purchased from Fairfields Farms was prepared in the jail kitchen and brought to the Sheraton-Lanham by a deputy and two trusties (prisoners entrusted with some freedom)."It was the most freedom I'd had for a long time," said Ron Reemsnyder, now 28 and out of jail. There was an open bar. "Those guys in the band got me loaded."
"There were no trusties there," Ansell insisted. "There better not have been."
For this event, deputies who normally receive their pay checks from section chiefs said they had to line up at the sheriff's office to collect their checks and were asked to buy $10 tickets as they received them. Those who didn't, they say, were told they would have to work at the jail tonight.
The jail is the centerpiece of the sheriff's office, and the corrections is the area that Ansell wants to pursue, professionally and academically. Ansell expects to receive his B.A. in correction from American University this year.
It's an education he, Williams, and Smith have pursued largely at public expense, often during daytime working hours, all perfectly legally.
The top official's freedom to take daytime anger deputies who must attend them at night or sign up for school when assigned to one shift, only to have their hours changed. As for the time away from work, Ansell, Smith and Williams received the same statutory salary no matter how few or many hour they work. The all contend they put in untold extra hours on he job.
Ansell's education costs are supposed to be paid from his yearly expense account. Last August, however, according to county financial records and official Richard Bradley, Ansell tried to deduct a $1,200 tuition payment for himself from an $8,000 fund set aside for deputies' training. After some discussion, Bradley said, the amount was properly charged to Ansell's expense account.
Ansell also acknowledged last week that his secretary has "typed some term papers for me . . . on company (county time)." "For me too," added Assistant Sheriff Williams. "One time."
Ansell also acknowledged receiving the help of several deputies on his yard back in 1974 but maintained it was strictly on their time.
"I supplied the beer," he said. "That's the way everything is done in police work . . . Everybody would pitched in to help, and whoever's house it was furnished the beer and the food."
Several participants, however, tell different versions. "He said, 'Come on over and work in the yard," recalled Lt. Carl Powell, now night shift supervisor at the jail. "We hidn't take any kind of leave. He knew we were working that day. We weren't charged with any annual leave or comp time. He just didn't care."
James Cook, a former deputy who is in the process of being divorced from Ansell's sister, said he had "more than once taken trusties" to Ansell's house "to do yard work" and other chores. Ansell categorically denied any trusties had ever been to his house or yard.
Ansell was elected in 1970 an a reform platform, and did, in fact, made good on some of his campaign pledges. He sent many of his men to the police academy at Forestville for training, purchased new cruisers and, for the first time, uniforms. After a period in which he contended a new jail was necessary, he pushed for money for the recently completed $4 million county detention center.
"Don Ansell has kept his promise of four years ago to prefossionalize the Sheriff's Department in Prince George's County," a party leaflet boasted during the 1974 campaign.
That was the year, according to Capt. Gerry Powers, a former ally now critic, that "he had virtually the entire department passing out literature for him and supporting him 100 per cent."
"I worked . . . for him, both on county and my time," recalled Lester Humphries, a former assistant sheriff who is considering running for sheriff next year.
Capt. James Aluisi, who is also interested in running for sheriff, recalled Ansell saying, "Go ahead, take comp time. I'll make it up to you.' If you wanted time off, he'd give you time off. I did it. That's what I was told to do. He said, 'Try not to use the county car, but use it if you have to.'"
Jack McMillan, a deputy recently fired for allegedly posting a statement questioning Ansell's sanity, said he used a county car on county time to pass out leaflets in Laurel "at his request."
Ansell attributed the current deputy backlash against him solely to his new philosophical direction. His critics, he said, would rather be gun-toting cops than concerned correctional officers.
"There's alot of movement, and most of the deputies don't like the movement, and the movement's gonna stay, because it's the only way you can accomplish programs," Ansell said.
"I'm not a popular person, I don't think I was put in here to be popular," he said. "I don't get involved too much politically in this county."