NEWS RELEASE
Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.


February 19, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

MAN HIRED TO IMPROVE CHESAPEAKE'S OYSTER CROP INDICTED ON THEFT, PROCUREMENT FRAUD CHARGES

Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that a businessman who had formerly received grant monies from the State of Maryland, Michael W. Willinsky, 61, of Ontario, Canada, was indicted on charges of theft and procurement fraud relating to a 1997 grant awarded to Willinsky, who was charged with designing and implementing practices to improve the Chesapeake Bay oyster crop. Willinsky is charged with making and using a false invoice that asserted his company was due reimbursement for materials never ordered and travel expenses not incurred so that he, as the company's sole owner, received approximately $30,000 of grant monies to which he was not otherwise entitled.

Though an indictment is merely an accusation of wrongdoing and every individual is presumed innocent unless the state proves the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, if convicted on all four counts, Michael Willinsky faces a maximum sentence of thirty years in prison, $61,000 in fines and could be ordered to pay the full amount of his wrongdoing in restitution, approximately $30,000.

This case was referred to the Office of the Attorney General by the Office of the Legislative Auditors, who had conducted an extensive audit of the contracts between the Department of Natural Resources and Mr. Willinsky. This matter was also investigated by the Maryland State Police and the Criminal Investigations Unit of the Office of the Attorney General.

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