- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 20, 2014

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The president of the Charles County Commission claims in a lawsuit that the county’s chief prosecutor defamed her by saying she was the target of a “criminal investigation” even though he knew she had not violated the law.

Susan Burke, an attorney for Candice Kelly, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt against State’s Attorney Anthony Covington. Kristen Ayers, Covington’s executive secretary, said Covington was not available Tuesday and had no immediate comment on the case.

The lawsuit targets an investigation Covington conducted on Kelly after she acquired a county employee’s tax form in 2011. The lawsuit says Kelly requested the tax form within the scope of her powers as a local official relating to the use of county-owned vehicles by one or more county officials.

“Defendant Covington knew that plaintiff Kelly’s actions indisputably were permissible and appropriate actions that did not violate any federal or state law but instead were acts taken to ensure that the county did not continue to understate personal vehicle usage in federal filings made by the county,” the lawsuit said.

Nevertheless, the lawsuit alleges, Covington pursued a case.

“Despite knowing plaintiff Kelly had not committed any crime, defendant Covington abused his power and authority by waging a defamatory campaign publicizing his ‘criminal investigation’ of plaintiff Kelly,” according to the lawsuit

Covington did not bring charges against Kelly. However, the lawsuit said Covington released grand jury transcripts earlier this year. The release of those documents was intended to damage Kelly, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit seeks to stop Covington from “continued wrongdoing” and to obtain damages.

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