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Ex-Perot volunteer files suit against detective agency


A former volunteer in Ross Perot's Western Maryland campaign filed a federal lawsuit yesterday against a detective agency, charging that the firm illegally obtained a credit report on him.

In the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Richard Stover of Frederick charged that O'Connell Associates, a Smithtown, N.Y., detective agency, illegally obtained his credit report from Equifax Corp.

The suit seeks $150,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

In October, Mr. Stover and Lawrence Way, another former Perot volunteer, alleged in a complaint filed with the Maryland Consumer Credit Commission that the Perot campaign hired O'Connell to conduct credit checks on volunteers.

The Maryland attorney general's office said it could not investigate the complaint because the firm was outside state jurisdiction.

Mr. Way, who was chairman of Mr. Perot's Frederick County petition committee, was fired April 30, 1992, two days after his credit report was obtained, the state complaint said. Mr. Stover resigned from the committee when his report was obtained shortly afterward, the lawsuit alleges.

In the suit, Mr. Stover claims that the detective agency violated a federal law that prohibits the release of credit reports to other parties in most cases. He claims that he has spent a considerable amount of time and money to determine why his credit was checked.

A woman answering the telephone at the O'Connell office in Smithtown yesterday said there were no officers available for comment. Perot officials have consistently denied using the agency to research the backgrounds of volunteers.

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