Despite his relative inexperience in prosecuting white-collar financial crimes, Charlton T. “Chuck” Howard III was appointed Maryland’s next state prosecutor by Governor Larry Hogan.
“I have every confidence in Mr. Howard’s abilities to root out corruption and serve as a strong advocate for the people of Maryland,” Hogan said in a prepared statement this afternoon.
Howard, who spent most of his career as a Navy counterintelligence officer in Quantico, Va., was one of two nominees presented to Hogan by a selection panel headed by Carroll County State’s Attorney Brian L. DeLeonardo.
The lawyer and Naval Academy graduate was widely regarded as the front-runner to head the small, anti-corruption office that began operations in 1977 at a time when two former Maryland governors, Spiro Agnew and Marvin Mandel, had been convicted or implicated in bribery schemes.
(Agnew resigned as U.S. vice president after pleading guilty to tax evasion stemming from kickbacks he took as Baltimore County executive and Maryland governor. Mandel was convicted of mail fraud and racketeering, only to be later released and his sentence commuted by President Ronald Reagan.)
Selection Process Questioned
Despite a record number of candidates for the job, Hogan was handed just two nominees by the selection commission – Howard and Michael J. Dunty, a violent crimes prosecutor at the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office.
Among those overlooked was the Acting State Prosecutor Kelly B. Madigan, who was highly recommended for the job by Emmet Davitt, the retiring state prosecutor.
Former members of the prosecutors’ office questioned the selection process in a story we published on Wednesday.
In picking Howard, Hogan noted that “the Office of State Prosecutor is essential to ensuring honesty and transparency in government.”
Soon after retiring from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Howard joined the office of Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, handling child support litigation. He also worked briefly as an assistant state’s attorney in Baltimore City.
In his announcement, Hogan emphasized that Howard was once responsible for 2,500 employees and annual budgets of $460 million at the NCIS.
The state prosecutor’s office has a staff of seven investigators, three prosecutors and a budget of under $2 million.
Despite restricted money and manpower, the office has won several prominent cases in recent years, including the conviction of Baltimore County schools superintendent Dallas Dance for failing to disclose outside income.
Last April, Hogan asked the office to examine the financial dealings of ex-Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh with the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), which paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for her “Healthy Holly” children’s books.
That probe is now reportedly part of a larger investigation of Pugh conducted by the U.S. attorney’s office.