- The Washington Times - Friday, September 29, 2006

The Forest Heights Town Council has suspended the mayor after accusing him of misusing town funds, less than a year after the council ousted his predecessor over charges she assaulted a police officer and former council member.

Council President Larry Stoner said Mayor Myles Spires Jr. moved council funds into his accounts and exceeded his authority in awarding contracts for town business.

“He’s overspent the budget, he’s wired money into separate accounts. … He’s committed one transgression after another,” Mr. Stoner said.

Council member Andrea McCutcheon said that no charges have been filed against Mr. Spires, but that he is being investigated by the state prosecutor’s office.

A spokesman for State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh said he could neither confirm nor deny investigations.

However, Mr. Stoner at a town meeting last night confirmed the investigation and said Mr. Spires has been suspended.

Mr. Stoner said he will be the acting mayor until the town holds a special election.

“When you appoint a person, you expect them to do what is right,” he said. “When they let you down, there is not much else you can do except appoint someone else.”

Officials also said Ms. McCutcheon will be the acting town president and that Mr. Spires’ name is being removed from the town bank account.

Mr. Spires disputed the accusations and said the town funds he received came as travel advancements and reimbursements.

“Everybody on the council receives travel advancements from time to time and reimbursements,” he said. “And that’s all that ever happened.”

Mr. Spires also said he was suspended because council members said he violated the town’s charter by lobbying for money for Forest Heights and awarding a contract of more than $300,000 to fix streets — an amount the council did not approve, Ms. McCutcheon said.

Mr. Spires said the contract money came from a combination of state funds to fix streets and a state bond that can be used for that purpose.

The announcement last night follows weeks of closed-door maneuvering.

On Sept. 7, council members held a closed meeting and enacted a charter amendment to suspend Mr. Spires, who was given written notification of his suspension five days later.

The council then obtained a peace order against Mr. Spires on Sept. 13, prohibiting him from entering his office and the town hall.

Ms. McCutcheon said Mr. Spires obtained a temporary injunction of his own against the council and canceled its Sept. 20 meeting.

Both orders have since been overturned by county judges. But the suspension still stands, pending a court hearing that Mr. Spires said has not yet been scheduled.

“He can come up to the town as a citizen, but he cannot act in any capacity as mayor,” Mr. Stoner said.

Mr. Spires attended the meeting last night, sitting in the front row but not talking.

“I knew he would show up because he is crazy,” said resident Mary Wimbush, 70. “He has no conscious. I think he needs help.”

Forest Heights is a small town on the D.C.-Maryland line that was incorporated in 1949. It has a population of about 2,700.

Mr. Spires’ suspension has once again thrown the tiny town into political upheaval and echoes events of less than a year ago.

In November, the council approved 12 amendments to the town charter that resulted in the removal of then-Mayor Joyce A. Beck.

Mrs. Beck had been accused of slamming a door on the arm of a police officer who was asking her for documents last October and of slamming a door on a former council member after storming out of a meeting.

The assault charges against Mrs. Beck were prosecuted by Calvert County officials but later dropped “due to insufficient evidence,” said Jennifer Morton, a special prosecutor for the county.

After Mrs. Beck’s removal, the council used a provision of the town’s charter to elect Mr. Spires, a council member who had spearheaded the ouster.

Mrs. Beck had accused Mr. Spires of orchestrating her removal to usurp the position. Mr. Spires was sworn into office Jan. 27.

“This is just a suspension, it is not a removal,” Mr. Spires said. “And this is questionable. It’s before the court to decide whether or not they did it legally.”

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