- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 21, 2000

The D.C. Council spent several hundred thousand dollars in 1998 investigating misconduct and corruption within the Metropolitan Police Department. Lawmakers hired a special counsel, hinted of widespread corruption, encouraged whistleblowing and held numerous hearings. In the end, though, the council left the department left largely untouched. Federal investigators, however, may not.

It's an involved story, but on May 12, a federal grand jury indicted an Iron Workers Union member, Darrell. E. Shelton, on 69 counts of mail fraud, embezzlement and other charges. Mr. Shelton, who lives in Palm Springs, Calif., is alleged to have used more than $85,000 in union money to finance such personal expenses as hotels and vacations for his family and friends. Prosecutors also say he stole $3,000 in union money to pay for meals and resort charges for Iron Workers President Jake West and friends and relatives of Mr. West. Mr. Shelton, has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for a May 25 hearing before U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan here in Washington.

Interestingly, one of the names that has surfaced in connection with Mr. West is that of former D.C. Police Chief Larry Soulsby. Mr. Soulsby, readers may recall, retired from the department in November 1997, shortly before one of his lieutenants, Jeffrey Stowe, with whom he shared an apartment, pleaded guilty to extortion and other charges. "Prosecutors have examined Mr. West's activities for more than two years," The Washington Post reported May 13. "They are interested not only in his union's financial books, but also in the relationship with former D.C. police chief Larry D. Soulsby and whether West used union money to bestow favors on Soulsby, and if he did, whether he received anything in return."

Federal prosecutors have already won guilty pleas from two other union officials in this investigation. Fred G. Summers, former executive director of organizing, pleaded guilty in March to stealing $50,000 to cover expenses for Mr. West, and in March 1999 Michael J. Brennan, who headed the Iron Workers' Political Action League, pleaded guilty to stealing $7,000. Both Summers and Brennan hope to receive reduced sentences in exchange for their cooperation. Stowe is cooperating as well. He agreed to assist federal prosecutors in their investigation and has remained free ever since. Moreover, his sentencing has been repeatedly delayed.

Mr. Soulsby, who faced his own problems while police chief, is not mentioned by name in the Shelton indictment, has not been charged and continues to assert his innocence through his attorney. Nor are the names of any other D.C. police officers cited in the indictment. Mr. Soulsby's attorney, Gerard F. Treanor, told the Post, "We have no knowledge of the events that have led to the indictment of Mr. Shelton." Mr. Shelton's attorney, E. Lawrence Barcella Jr., meanwhile, criticized the direction of the probe and called Mr. Soulsby "a D.C. problem."

If only D.C. officials knew just how much of a "problem."

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