Business owner says official abused power

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Eric Krasner, owner of CineGraphic Studios in downtown Frederick, is accusing John ‘‘Lennie” Thompson Jr. of making false allegations against him and abusing his powers as president of the Frederick Board of County Commissioners.

Thompson (R), who declined to comment on this story to The Gazette, has responded to Krasner’s accusation by asking the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, the county’s State’s Attorney’s Office and the Office of the State Prosecutor to investigate the allegations.

The brouhaha started last month when Krasner was a guest on WFMD’s ‘‘Frederick Forum” radio program. Krasner spoke in protest to a recent controversy regarding the county health department’s health permit requirements for city events.

Following the April 1 show, Thompson immediately sent an e-mail to Krasner claiming that he said on the program he intended to have someone at his business with a concealed firearm to prevent entry by health department officials.

The war of words continued this week, when Krasner told The Gazette Thompson was wrong. Krasner claims that during the radio show, talked about his brother, who operates the Silverado Gun Show. Krasner said he stated that his brother would offer security if health officials attempted to inspect his establishment, since Krasner does not serve food.

An audiotape of the April 1 show was unavailable from the radio station.

Krasner responded to Thompson’s April 1 e-mail stating that there were more important county matters to address than what he said or did not say on the program. He did not clarify his radio statements in that e-mail.

Thompson responded in an e-mail to Krasner and county officials, stating ‘‘there is a substantial possibility that [Krasner] (or someone on his behalf) intends to threaten or employ the use of deadly force to keep health department personnel from entering his business premises.”

Now, through attorney Leslie A. Powell, Krasner is responding to Thompson’s e-mails.

‘‘These outrageous statements are false accusations of criminal conduct and are calculated to harm Mr. Krasner and his business,” said Powell, in a May 3 letter to Thompson. ‘‘Mr. Krasner made no statement that he would have someone with a concealed firearm prevent the health department inspector from entering his business. ... Widely publishing your electronic mail with false statements serves only the purpose of injuring my client.”

Powell’s letter states that Krasner wants Thompson to retract his statements and offer a public apology to all those who received the e-mails.

‘‘This statement must be distributed immediately,” Powell wrote. ‘‘Please call me to confirm that mitigation efforts are being undertaken.”

In an interview Tuesday, Krasner said he has yet to decide what action he will take if Thompson does not offer an apology. ‘‘If it comes back that he did abuse his powers, he better issue an apology,” he said.

Krasner said he is also not pleased that Thompson sent Powell’s letter to county officials and to The Gazette.

‘‘I wish Lennie would spend more time dealing with problems than forward something like this,” Krasner said. ‘‘He’s like a little kid that never went to daycare and learned how to play with others.”