Tag Archives: Government Accountability Office

O’Malley purchase of furniture from mansion being probed by prosecutor

o'MALLEYFormer Governor Martin O’Malley and his family paid $9,638 for beds, chairs, desks, lamps and other items from the mansion’s living quarters that originally cost taxpayers $62,000

Maryland state officials had little to say Friday about a criminal probe that has been launched into former governor Martin O’Malley’s purchase of furniture from the state at a steep discount when he left office last January.

A spokeswoman for the Anne Arundel County state’s attorney, Wes Adams (R), confirmed late Thursday that the office is investigating the purchases by O’Malley, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

The O’Malley family bought dozens of pieces of furniture and other items from the governor’s mansion after state officials deemed it “excess property,” according to state records.

O’Malley has tried to position himself as the most electable alternative to Hillary Clinton, but he has been unable to build momentum in a campaign season dominated by a large, unpredictable GOP field and the unexpected surge on the Democratic side of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“This is a bogus political attack that the Maryland Republicans have tried to make stick,” Morris said. “And it’s sad that they’re wasting taxpayer re­sources on it.”

The probe is being handled by Adams, who took office in the heavily Republican county last January. One of his first actions was to rid his office of Democratic prosecutors. He later hired Kendel Ehrlich, wife of former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), as an assistant state’s attorney.

Adams launched the investigation after receiving an email about the furniture purchase from state Secretary of General Services C. Gail Bassette, according to the Sun. Bassette is an appointee of O’Malley’s successor, Gov. Larry Hogan (R).

Heather Epkins, Adams’s spokeswoman, said he is following a legal process, without political motivations, and would “utilize the same process” were he to receive similar complaints about a Republican.

A spokesman for Hogan, who has publicly questioned O’Malley’s purchase of the furniture in recent months, declined to comment Friday, saying it would be inappropriate during an ongoing criminal investigation.

Other cases of alleged wrong­doing by state officials have been investigated by State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt, an O’Malley appointee. Davitt’s staff said he was not available for comment Friday.

James Cabezas, a chief investigator in Davitt’s office, said Adams is “within his legal authority” to conduct an investigation.

He said it is not unusual for a county state’s attorney to conduct a preliminary inquiry and then hand the case to the state. It would also not be unusual for Adams to keep the case, he said.

O’Malley said in September that he was “kind of surprised” by the controversy over his furniture purchase, saying his family “followed the rules as they were laid out to us.” He said the family paid what the Department of General Services determined was the furniture’s depreciated value.

“I know there was no negotiating of the price,” O’Malley said in September. “We were just told it was some sort of standard depreciation formula they had used for the prior family.”

O’Malley aides say Ehrlich purchased furniture under the same procedures when he moved out of the governor’s mansion in 2007. Ehrlich purchased a lesser amount of furniture.

Hogan, who moved into the mansion a year ago, was asked about the controversy during a news conference in September. He said he asked O’Malley during a tour of the mansion about the “beautiful” furniture and asked whether the items belong to him or to the state. “He’s been misleading,” Hogan said.

Via Washington Post

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What’s next for Prince George’s County after school board member indicted?

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Prince George’s County Board of Education member Lynnette Mundey

WASHINGTON — Her resignation wasn’t a surprise — but her indictment came as a shock.

Prince George’s County Board of Education member Lynnette Mundey had announced in June that she was leaving the board, stepping down, she told the Sentinel newspapers, to get her doctorate in education.

But this week, Mundey, an employee at the Government Accountability Office, was indicted, accused of gaming the school system she was appointed to serve. The Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office announced she and four other GAO workers — all parents of children in the PGCPS school system, were charged with falsifying documents so that their children could qualify for the free and reduced meals offered for children in need in the school system.

Dr. Segun Eubanks, the chair of the Prince George’s County school board, says the board was already working with County Executive Rushern Baker to find a replacement to fill the remainder of Mundey’s term. But Eubanks told WTOP the incident pushes the board to prove “that we are indeed going to work with as much integrity as possible — and I think we will.”

As a result of changes to the school board structure enacted after Baker was elected, the county executive has the power to appoint three school board members. Mundey holds an elected seat, but according to school board officials, her resignation allows the county executive the opportunity to appoint her successor to fill the remainder of her term.

The Board of Education met in executive session at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Maryland law allows public bodies like school boards, town and county councils to meet behind closed doors in “executive session” under a number of circumstances, including personnel issues and when obtaining legal advice.

via WTOP

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

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Updated:GAO Employees Indicted for School Lunch Fraud.

WASHINGTON, DC - March 04: Gene L. Dodaro, acting comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office, testifies during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on how the federal government will account for the $787 billion economic stimulus bill known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly)

WASHINGTON, DC – March 04: Gene L. Dodaro, is the comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office, (GAO). He is seen here testifing during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on how the federal government will account for the $787 billion economic stimulus bill known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell)

Updated 8:24 p.m. | Five employees with the Government Accountability Office, and one GAO employee’s spouse, were indicted Tuesday for working to illegally obtain reduced-price lunches for their children. Among them is Board of Education member for Prince George’s County Ms. Lyn Mundey representing District 7.  Ms. Mundey was appointed to that position by County Executive Rushern Baker III.

The indictment resulted from the legislative branch agency’s own investigation into the school meals program, which found some of the GAO’s employees applied for the program and underreported their income to gain access to the reduced-price lunches. After the agency discovered the illegal activity, the GAO reported applications to the agency’s inspector general.

“There is no excuse for stealing funds intended to go to children whose parents cannot afford the school lunches,” Maryland’s Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said in a news release announcing the indictment. “Their actions are made even worse by the fact that some of them claimed to have not just low income, but no income at all, even though they were working full-time jobs at the GAO.”

The GAO, which notes on its website that it is often referred to as the “congressional watchdog,” investigates federal spending. GAO spokesman Chuck Young wrote in an email to the press that GAO employees were “both disappointed and surprised” to learn their colleagues were potentially committing fraud.

“We will now be monitoring the judicial process and then determine what personnel actions might be appropriate,” Young said. Young later noted all of the employees indicted are administrative support personnel.

According to the news release, between 2010 and 2014, the employees’ children received more than $13,000 in reduced-price lunches. The GAO employees named in the indictment include Lynette Mundey, an internal auditor and an outgoing member of the county’s board of education; Barbara Rowley; Jamilah Reid; Tracy Williams; Charlene Savoy; and James Pickney, whose wife is a GAO employee. Pickney allegedly failed to disclose his wife’s income, which rendered his family ineligible for the reduced lunch program.

Each employee was charged with two counts of welfare fraud, two counts of submitting a false application for public assistance and one count of a theft scheme, according to a copy of the indictment.

Young also noted in his statement that, apart from the GAO employees, during its investigation the agency found 298 individuals that potentially filed fraudulent applications. Those individuals were referred to the Department of Agriculture Inspector General’s Office, the Departments of Human Services in three states and the District of Columbia, and individual school districts.

>>> Read more Updates in WJLA Reports

300x300Board of Education member for Prince George’s County Lyn Mundey (seen here) has been indicted on charges of theft, fraud and filing false documents. It’s alleged Mundey’s child received more than $1,300 worth of free lunches through the federal USDA low income meals program, which is reserved for individuals with annual salaries ranging from approximately $11,600 to $40,000, depending on the size of the household, according to a press release. It’s also alleged that Mundey falsely claimed low and no income to win the benefit, even as she worked as a management analyst at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and as a school board member.

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