Former mayoral candidate's wife target of city suit

The city of Baltimore has filed suit against the wife of former mayoral candidate Otis Rolley, demanding $26,100 for months of leave that were erroneously granted her because of a computer glitch.

Charline Rolley took more than 90 days of paid leave — to give birth, tend to her sick infant and work on her husband's campaign — during the time she was employed by Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young's office.


The civil suit accuses Rolley of breach of contract and unjust enrichment for taking the leave time and demands that she pay for the salary that she received while taking vacation and sick days that had been incorrectly allotted to her.

An attorney for Rolley called the suit "outrageous" and said that she should not have to pay for the city's error.

"All of the leave Ms. Rolley took was in reliance on what the city told her she had," said attorney Andrew D. Freeman. "If they hadn't told her that, she wouldn't have taken the leave."

But the city contends that Rolley should have noticed the discrepancy sooner. The city's administrative manual states that employees should be responsible for monitoring their leave time.

"Mrs. Rolley was in the position to identify the illegitimate leave balances from the issuance of her first check/ stub" in March 2010, a report from the city's inspector general states.

The report includes a transcript from an interview with Rolley in which she acknowledges that she should have noticed the error.

"I see where it could've been my fault to not follow up," Rolley told an investigator. "Am I kicking myself now that I didn't do it? Of course. I wouldn't be in this situation."

The city also paid nearly $22,000 for Rolley's health benefits while she was on leave, money the inspector general's report indicates she should also repay.

The discrepancy arose because a computer glitch credited Rolley for sick leave and vacation time that she earned by working as a secretary from 2000 to 2007 to then-Mayor Martin O'Malley. Rolley had been paid for that time when she left the job.

Yet Rolley's pay stubs when she began working for Young's office in 2010 showed that she had 115 vacation and sick days — information that a human resources employee confirmed to her, according to the inspector general's report.

An aide to Young brought the discrepancy to Rolley's attention in May 2011, when she was attempting to take a longer leave of absence because of her husband's campaign.

A trial in Baltimore District Court is scheduled for March 23.

Freeman, Rolley's attorney, questioned the motivations behind the suit. Otis Rolley was one of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's most vocal critics on the campaign trail, although he received less than one-tenth of the vote.

"I find it hard to believe that if they had made the same mistake with another city employee that they would be pursuing it," Freeman said.


A spokesman for Rawlings-Blake declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

The inspector general's report recommends steps for the city's payroll department to avoid future errors.