SANDY SPRING Md. (WUSA9)-- Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler is strongly denying an accusation from Montgomery County's former Inspector General that Gansler's office shut down a 2007 investigation into alleged wrongdoing by developers that had a disastrous impact on an enclave of of African-American landowners.
"We never did an investigation," Gansler told WUSA9. "We were never asked to do an investigation on this particular parcel of land."
In an affidavit filed in an unsuccessful lawsuit, engineering firm MHG is accused by former Montgomery County Legislative Aide Adrienne Gude of submitting false and misleading documents to gain a development approval that wiped out an access known as "Farm Road" used by neighboring landowners for generations.
Gansler's statement is at odds with accounts, documents and emails provided by Gude and
founder Steve Kanstoroom. Gude and Kanstoroom say they had repeated face to face meetings to exchange documents and evidence with Assistant Attorneys General Kay Winfree, Dan Barnett and Rakesh Patel in the offices of Montgomery County Inspector General Thomas J. Dagley.
"It was an ongoing investigation from April of 2007 to November of 2007 when they met with us and told us they were not going to pursue it anymore without giving us a reason," Gude said.
Before the inquiry was halted, Gude claims she was directed by the prosecutors to file a complaint with Maryland's Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation so that the agency's Assistant Attorney General, Susan Cherry, could move the investigation forward.
Gude complained that MHG "failed to include any reference to a private road, known as the "Farm Road", and related rights-of-way". She alleged this happened "despite the fact that the Farm Road is referenced in the chains of title for twenty neighboring properties."
Dagley, who has refused to be interviewed, wrote in a recent letter to Kanstoroom that law enforcement officials "shut down" investigations for "partisan" reasons. Dagley claims a state investigator resigned in protest.
Gude and Kanstoroom say the investigation covered what they believe to be a pattern of misconduct on a number of properties. One focus was on the approval by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission of the Dellabrooke subdivision, built in 2002. The approval resulted in "Farm Road" being wiped from official records. At least three stately homes now stand over the old road, and M-NCPPC obtained a conservation easement. Neighboring landowners claim it came at their expense.
Since then, M-NCPPC has denied families' requests for addresses and building rights saying they have no proof of access, even though one end of the road that survived the development still exists.
"I think something has been stolen, absolutely," Gude said.
Landowner William Rounds notes that he and his family have paid taxes on his land for more than a century and calls what happened "outrageous". Rounds and others say their property values have been destroyed.
When shown Gude's complaint to the Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation with a copy directed to the assistant prosecutor under Gansler who advises the agency, Gansler again maintained 'nobody asked us to do anything about it."
"People can send us stuff all the time about a variety of issues," Gansler said. "We have jurisdiction over some issues we don't have jurisdiction over others but my understanding of the Sandy Spring Farm Road issue is that this is a local Montgomery County zoning issue that has nothing to do with the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Maryland."
Allegations of misconduct by licensed professionals is regulated by state law.
MHG referred WUSA9's questions to an attorney, who did not respond to requests for comment.