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Mayor supports system's handling of probe

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley expressed confidence yesterday in the city school system's handling of allegations that top staff members intended to use public funds for a recreational fishing trip.

The state prosecutor's office has opened an investigation into the trip.

Last week, the school system fired Chief Operating Officer Eric T. Letsinger, who organized the trip for about 10 system and city employees.

No disciplinary action has been taken against anyone else involved.

"As I understand it, there was a number of employees there, but the one who took the action of taking the staff retreat ... the person who made the mistake was the COO, who should not have gone about paying for it in the way that he did," O'Malley said yesterday after a Board of Estimates meeting.

"While it may be acceptable at IBM, it's not acceptable in the public realm."

He said the school board "is satisfied that they [the administration] acted swiftly and judiciously."

Letsinger, a former city deputy housing commissioner who was an ally of O'Malley, has conceded that he intended to use system money to pay for the $1,600 trip when it was supposed to be a team-building retreat for overworked employees.

He said he decided to pay for the trip himself after it became a day to just relax and everyone who went on the trip took a vacation day to do so.

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