- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2000

At least two District of Columbia Council members have expressed support of acting D.C. Fire Chief Ronnie Few, despite reports that Georgia authorities raided his former offices to seize financial records during his tenure there.

Support from council members Vincent Orange, Ward 5 Democrat, and Harold Brazil, at-large Democrat, will likely help Chief Few when his confirmation hearings begin Wednesday before the council's Judiciary Committee, which Mr. Brazil heads.

Mr. Orange said he is "inclined to vote for" confirming Chief Few, but will meet with him Tuesday to ask about the special grand jury in Georgia that is investigating the chief's former department.

Danny Craig, the district attorney for Augusta-Richmond County, this week said the grand jury gave the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) information that "established probable cause to believe that certain crimes had been committed by an employee, or employees, of the Richmond County Fire Department."

GBI agents executed search warrants Tuesday to seize records from the county's fire, purchasing and finance departments.

Mr. Craig did not identify any suspects or targets in the investigation. But sources familiar with the probe told The Washington Times that records of purchases and bank accounts controlled by Chief Few and his former public information officer, Katrice Bryant, were the focus of the search warrants.

Chief Few has not returned repeated calls seeking comment.

The Times first reported the investigation of Chief Few in June.

Chief Few ran the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department for three years before taking the top post in the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department on July 10, for an annual salary of $130,000.

"All the information I have is that Ronnie Few is a real clean, straight-shooting, hard-working guy, and he's really made a difference down there," Mr. Brazil said.

Mr. Brazil, a member of the search committee that selected Chief Few, had complained in June that he was not told about the grand jury probe of the chief. He said he would would send an investigator to Augusta to look into the matter.

He told The Times this week he did not send an investigator. "I'm not sure we're the appropriate body to make that investigation," Mr. Brazil said.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who is at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, continues to support Chief Few, officials in the mayor's press office said.

Council members Sharon Ambrose, Ward 6 Democrat, and Kevin P. Chavous, Ward 7 Democrat, both members of the Judiciary Committee, did not return calls seeking comment yesterday.

Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat and a Judiciary Committee member, said Chief Few will be scrutinized at next week's hearing about the grand jury probe and his ability to lead the D.C. fire department, which is six times larger than Augusta's.

Mr. Evans said he asked Chief Few if there was "anything else I need to know about in Augusta or in your background" in a meeting last week.

The chief answered "no," he said.

The council member said that "if something else pops out and he hasn't told us about it, that will be very detrimental to his nomination."

Mr. Evans said that Chief Few "comes across as a very qualified applicant [and] seemed to be able to explain away" the grand jury probe.

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