- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 26, 2000

The Metropolitan Police Department recently completed a probe of the D.C. Fraternal Order of Police Labor Committee after its new chairman learned of a few problems. An independent, private company is also reviewing the union's books, and so is the U.S. Attorney's Office. According to sources familiar with the investigations, union officials misused union funds for, among other things, a stay at a couples-only resort in Pennsylvania and buying shoes from an upscale shop in Bethesda. Wonder if the rank and file knew their hard-earned dues would be used for such purchases?
Internal Affairs conducted MPD's probe, "but it's probably open and suspended pending the outcome of the audit," Chief Chuck Ramsey told reporter John Drake of The Washington Times. The chief said the probe was sparked by a letter from Sgt. Gerald G. Neill, who became FOP chairman in October.
The investigation includes $80,000 in questionable union expenditures, such as credit-card purchases, made between October 1998 and September of this year. Specifically, the various investigations are looking at:
* A $300 getaway at Caesar's Cove Haven Resort near Lakeville, Pa., in January 1999.
* Purchases totaling more than $800 at Hecht's in Marlow Heights, Md., Gentlemen's Jodhpur and another men's clothing store. A $439.46 stay at a Hampton Inn in Prince George's County in March 1999. One name connected to those purchases is Officer Tyrone Best, labor committee treasurer.
* $1,300 in purchases at the Grandma's Fine Art Gallery in Prince George's County. One name connected with those purchases is Detective Renee Holden, former committee secretary and current vice president.
* Several thousand dollars worth of purchases for computers and related equipment from Circuit City. "Those computers are missing from the labor committee's office," Mr. Drake reported.
Officer Best and Detective Holden did not return telephone calls made by The Washington Times. Sgt. Neill would not comment on the probes, nor would federal prosecutors.
Frank Tracy, who was labor committee chairman when the questionable expenditures were made, has since retired from the Metropolitan Police Department and now works as a paid consultant for the department on unsolved homicide cases. He denied any wrongdoing and said he had "never been" to the couples-only resort or to Gentlemen's Jodhpur.
An independent audit by the accounting firm of May & Barnhard cited 29 financial transactions "that require follow-up," including invoices, receipts or proof of disbursement, canceled checks and credit-card statements, Mr. Drake reported. Those discrepancies led the firm to broaden the scope of its audit to include all credit-card statements. In a May 7 letter to the union the auditors made several recommendations, including strongly encouraging "the immediate cancellation of all credit cards and writing checks out to 'cash.' " The emphasis is the auditors'. However, it wouldn't at all be a bad idea if the police department's rank and file sought more immediate resolution. Now would it?

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