Schaefer orders extensive probe in alleged thefts by charwoman


ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer yesterday ordered a full investigation to determine what led a 26-year-old cleaning woman to allegedly steal $380 in cash from two of the state's top fiscal officers.

The woman, Ltanya Estelle Cox, of Fleet Street in Annapolis, was arrested last month for allegedly taking $300 from a bag located in the private bathroom of state Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein Feb. 19.

State police have also charged Ms. Cox with stealing $80 from a handbag belonging to state Treasurer Lucille Maurer in her private office one day later.

Employed by a private firm that cleans the Treasury Building in Annapolis, Ms. Cox has admitted she stole the money, according to state police. The case came up yesterday during a meeting of the Board of Public Works, which Governor Schaefer chairs and upon which Mr. Goldstein and Ms. Maurer serve.

The unusual circumstances of the theft, and concern about securityin the state's janitorial staff, led Governor Schaefer to ponder whether the defendant was an ex-convict.

He asked General Services Secretary Martin W. Walsh Jr. to study her background, including her family situation, schooling and job history, and give him a full report.

"Mostly likely an abused child, dropped out of school, put in jail and didn't change," the governor speculated. "Let's start seeing what happens to people we let out of jail, look to see whether we're helping them or just letting them out to lead a life of crime," he said.

In fact, a state official familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity said the woman is a single parent who held down two jobs to support her children and had no previous criminal history.

Nevertheless, "if this arrest offers an opportunity to gain some insight in the justice system, then it's worth the time to look into it," said Paul E. Schurick, the governor's spokesman. "Certainly, it gives cause for increased vigilance."

Ms. Maurer said after yesterday's meeting that Ms. Cox likely didn't realize the significance of stealing from the state treasurer and Mr. Goldstein. Both are guarded by troopers from the state police's Executive Protection Division.

"The symbolism [of stealing from a state treasurer and comptroller] was significant," Ms. Maurer said. "They [state police] really went for it."

Ms. Cox could not be reached for comment yesterday. She was released on her own recognizance after her arrest and is scheduled to appear in Anne Arundel County District Court in Annapolis June 3.

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