Land deal raises council concern
Committee blocks sale to company
The Prince George's County Council blocked a $1.5 million deal to sell county land south of Upper Marlboro after learning the purchasing company has ties to a developer under federal investigation.
At a meeting Oct. 14 to discuss selling several parcels of county-owned land, members decided to hold off approving a 12-acre sale near Rosaryville State Park to Day Homes LLC, an Upper Marlboro company that state records show is represented by Patrick Q. Ricker.
Ricker could not be reached for comment.
Members decided to exclude the land located at the site of the former Meadowbrook Elementary School off Heathermore Boulevard from the bill to sell surplus land until they receive more information about the deal.
The land deal was one of six parcels listed in the council resolution, which was put in at the request of the county executive's office.
Officials for County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) said Wednesday that the sale has been removed from the resolution pending legal review.
Ricker is one of several people listed in an ongoing FBI investigation into land deals involving the county, according to media reports. Last month, agents searched county offices and the homes of Ricker, county Fire Lt. Col. Karl L. Graznow Jr. and former County Councilman Thomas R. Hendershot for undisclosed reasons. The offices of Deputy Chief Administrative Officer David Byrd and Finance Director J. Michael Dougherty were also searched Sept 13.
The investigation appears connected to land deals involving Greenbelt Station, a project proposed near the Greenbelt Metro that Ricker is developing, according to media reports. No charges have been filed.
Council members said they began voicing questions about the land sale Tuesday after noticing that it was the only parcel listed with a buyer and sale price. Normally, the council passes a resolution declaring extra land as surplus, leaving it to county departments to take bids for the properties later.
Members learned from staff that Day Homes had negotiated the deal with the county two years ago, but that the council needed to reauthorize the sale because so much time had passed.
Councilman Will Campos (D-Dist. 2) of Hyattsville said the pre-approved buyer, and the company's ties to Ricker raised concerns.
"It stood out," Campos said.
Jim Keary, a spokesman for Johnson, said the land sale was placed on the resolution in error. County lawyers are reviewing the question of whether a previously approved sale can be upheld if two years have passed since it was bid, which he said led to the removal of the item.
"This had nothing to do with the federal investigation," said Keary, who said Day Homes' $1.5 million bid for the property was the highest when it was put up for sale in September 2005.
According to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation, Day Homes LLC was formed in 2005. The forms designate Ricker as the agent for the company and have his Upper Marlboro office as the contact address.
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