Prince George's Development: FBI Probe Gathers Wide Variety of Evidence.
Post, 2 Oct 2008 (Cauvin & Wiggins ).
A FBI investigation into Prince George's County development has cast a broad net in search of evidence, and one place federal agents are looking is on the golf course.Update:
Along with campaign contribution records, computer hard drives and corporate bank statements seized in a series of raids last month, investigators carted off a golf trophy, golf plaques, golf photos and documents about a golf outing.
The Sept. 13 searches of several homes and offices brought to light an investigation that appears to be examining a massive development project in Greenbelt and its ties to a former County Council member and two of his golfing buddies.
The New Carrollton home of the former council member, Thomas R. Hendershot (D), was searched by federal agents, as were the homes and offices of Karl L. Granzow Jr., a senior official in the Prince George's fire department, and Patrick Ricker, a politically connected developer in Prince George's.
FBI documents filed this week in federal court catalogue the hundreds of items seized in the raids, which included searches of Granzow's county office in Largo and the Upper Marlboro offices of two top county officials, David J. Byrd and James Michael Dougherty Jr.
County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D), who has said the county will cooperate with the investigation, appears to be referred to at least twice in the list of items seized in the raid of Ricker's office in Upper Marlboro.
One is listed by the FBI as "DOCS FROM TOP OF RICKER'S DESK RELATED TO 5 LOTS SOLD TO J. JOHNSON." The other is listed as "JT VENTURE AG - STAVROU, COLTON, RICKER DEVE GRP, LLC; DRAFT LTR FROM JACK JOHNSON RE: GB SENIOR HOUSING," which might refer to senior housing in Greenbelt.
John Erzen, a spokesman for Johnson, did not respond to questions about the apparent references to the county executive, and William C. Brennan, an attorney for Ricker, declined to comment.
No one has been charged in connection with the federal investigation.
In outlining the scope of the planned searches, federal investigators said they were seeking information about more than a dozen people, including relatives and business associates of Hendershot, Granzow and Ricker.
As a council member, Hendershot was a leading proponent of development generally and of the Greenbelt project in particular. The project, known as Greenbelt Station, has been in the works for more than a decade and is intended to create a mix of luxury homes and high-end retail around the Metro station in Greenbelt. Ricker has said he has a stake in the project.
Federal agents searching the men's homes and offices indicated that they were looking for information on development projects, lobbyist relationships, campaign contributions and "golf outings," among other matters.
Longtime friends with deep roots in the county, Ricker, Hendershot and Granzow are known to enjoy each other's company on the golf course.
At Hendershot's home, agents took e-mails, deposit slips and other documents related to Trend Inc., a little-known consulting concern in which the former council member appears to have a majority stake. Robert C. Bonsib, an attorney for Hendershot, did not return a call seeking comment.
It was at Hendershot's home that agents seized a document related to a golf outing. From the office of Dougherty, the county's finance director, federal agents seized a golf trophy, various golf plaques and three golf photos.
Three Friends in Glare of Pr. George's Probe
Post, 3 Oct 2008 (Helderman, Wiggins, & Cauvin ).
- The three friends:
- Former council member, Thomas R. Hendershot (D)
- Developer, Patrick Ricker
- Fire official, Karl L. Granzow Jr.