The chief of the Justice Department's task force supervising investigations of corruption in the General Services Administration has asked GSA to keep custody of the records of Robert T. Griffin, who was fired as GSA's deputy administrator in July, until they can be subpoenaed.
In the first publicly revealed action by the Justice task force chief, William S. Lynch told GSA Administrator Jay Solomon that telephone logs, notes, and other materials left by Griffin at GSA may be needed in the continuing GSA probes.
"Several matters are under investigation which may be illuminated by access to these records, which we view as government records," Lynch told Solomon in a letter delivered yesterday. "Please take such steps as are necessary to secure these records and insure that they not be released from the custody of GSA without prior notification to this office pending our securing of legal process."
After receiving Lynch's letter. Solomon decided to retain the records. Griffin has claimed they were personal and should be turned over to him.
Griffin now has a $50,000-a-year White House job given him after his friend.House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neil Jr. (D-Mass), complained to President Carter that Griffin had been treated "shabbily" by Solomon.
Internal GSA investigators sought the records to determine whether Griffin had any connection with a decision to award a $5.5 million contract to Art Metal-USA Inc. of Trenton, N.J., to supply the agency with chairs even though GSA knew the chairs did not meet its specifications.
"They want my telephone logs so they can put them on the front page of The Washington Post," Griffin said last night. "Solomon knows he has involved himself more with Art Metal than I ever have."
Complaining of continuing allegations about his actions while at GSA, Griffin said, "This is my life, this is my family, and people are asking them about it, and it's about time it stopped."
Meanwhile, two more government employes pleaded guilty in federal court in Baltimore to aiding a scheme in which office supply firms bribed GSA supply store managers in return for being paid by GSA for supplies never delivered to the agency.
The two men pleading guilty yesterday - Samuel Louis Sterling Theodore Johnson Sr., 56, of Severn, Md. - were civilian employes of the U.S. Army who purchased office supplies for the Army at the GSA supply store at Fort Meade. They admitted taking bribes from an office supply firm in return for certifying that they had received supplies that were never delivered.
A total of 10 GSA supply store managers and other federal employes have pleaded guilty to defrauding the federal government in the scheme, which is being investigated by federal prosecutors in Baltimore. The prosecutors have recommended lenient sentencing of the defendants in return for their cooperation in tracing the scheme to higher-ups in GSA.
Earlier this week, the federal grand jury in Baltimore subpoenaed the records of Jeraid Sternburg, who supervised the 30 GSA supply stores in the Washington-Baltimore region.
Yesterday, Solomon named William P. Kelly Jr., who had been in charge of GSA's office of planning, policy, and evaluation, to replace Robert P. Graham as commissioner of GSA's ferderal supply service, which includes responsibility for the supply stores, the Art Metal contracts and other purchasing.
Kelly, 54, worked for several government agencies before coming to GSA last June. He once was director of the Job Corps.