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Quick and Dirty

Case Closed

By Christina Royster-Hemby | Posted 3/16/2005

Last fall, City Paper reported on a power struggle that pitted the Harford Community College Board of Trustees against its president (“Class Struggle,” Oct. 6, 2004). The Bel Air school’s then-president, Claudia Chiesi, whose critics said she ruled the college with an iron fist, was put on the hot seat when her expense-account records were scrutinized by state legislators, who then demanded a federal investigation of her expense accounts.

Chiesi left her post at the school in December, and the college is now being run by interim president James LaCalle. But recently, the state’s investigation of Chiesi’s financial affairs has been quietly closed.

“The investigation has been completed,” deputy state prosecutor Thomas M. McDonough confirms, but does not offer details on his office’s findings. “Generally, what we do only becomes public if we recommend a charge.”

Chiesi’s expenses ended up under the microscope when state Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R-Cecil and Harford counties) sent a letter to the State Prosecutor’s office asking it to determine whether Chiesi’s expenditures as Harford’s president had been made for “legitimate purposes.” Among the expenses in question were $4,853 paid to an art gallery in 2002 and $12,000 Chiesi spent in supermarkets, bars, and restaurants between 2000 and 2003.

Ralph Jordan, a former member of the Harford Community College Board of Trustees told City Paper in October that the charges leveled at Chiesi were baseless, and that Chiesi, who is a liberal, was being singled out by a few Harford County Republicans in the state legislature. He says now that he knew that this investigation was going to be dropped from the beginning.

“It’s just kind of sad that, without fully understanding what had taken place at HCC, some legislators jumped to fallacious conclusions,” he says.

Chiesi has since moved out of the area. She could not be reached for comment.

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