State Games official will repay money But he says the sum was overdue salary


When Jerry Lee Osgood collected a $15,000 sponsorship check made out to him and to the Maryland State Games, he said he was told by the former director of the scandal-ridden athletic program to take a portion of it as his compensation.

But after he cashed the check in December 1989, Mr. Osgood was charged with stealing the money, and the person who pressed charges was former games director James E. Narron. At the time, Mr. Osgood was the State Games' marketing director and fund-raiser. He said Monday after entering an agreement to settle the criminal charge against him, he "had not been paid in months."

Mr. Osgood was hired on a contractual basis and was to be paid $2,500 a month plus a percentage of the money he raised for the games.

In the latest twist in the State Games scandal, Mr. Osgood agreed to pay nearly $4,500 to the State Games by next August. After the money is paid, Mr. Osgood will be found innocent of felony theft.

"I wanted to go to court," a shaken Mr. Osgood said after his public defender and an assistant state's attorney signed the agreement in Carroll County Circuit Court. "I wanted to be found not guilty by a court. But, on the strong advice of my friends and my family, I decided to do this and get on with my life."

The $15,000 check from the Annapolis-based Maryland Council of Coca-Cola Bottlers represented one of only a handful of non-government sponsorships of the games, and Mr. Osgood was proud of being able to pull in that kind of commitment.

But Narron never delivered on his contractual commitment, said Mr. Osgood, who is 43 and unemployed.

"Narron owed me some money before Christmas, and he kept telling me he would pay me," Mr. Osgood said. "But five days before Christmas, I was getting desperate to get some money. I talked to Narron and we agreed that I would take my pay out of the Coke check."

Had Mr. Osgood's contract remained in force, he would have been paid $17,000.

In court documents, Narron said no such arrangement ever took place between them. Instead, Narron fired Mr. Osgood one month later, filed theft charges and then had him arrested in front of his family in Virginia on a fugitive warrant.

Monday's agreement was unusual, said Edward M. Ulsch, a Carroll County assistant state's attorney.

"This would have been a tough case in front of a jury," he said. "When you think about it, a jury would have a number of problems. Did this crime actually happen in Carroll County? Did Mr. Osgood actually have criminal designs to steal the money? Isn't this really just a matter between an employee and his employer?"

Mr. Osgood's former employer has been in legal trouble of his own since state auditors found hundreds of thousands of state and federal dollars applied to questionable State Games expenditures.

Narron pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit misconduct in office in May and was sentenced last month to two years of probation. Narron's co-defendant, former Deputy Health Secretary John M. Staubitz Jr., also pleaded guilty in May to the same charge. Staubitz failed to appear last month for his sentencing, and remains at large.

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