Paul Liller, the former Baltimore Pride coordinator and deputy director and acting executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland, has been charged with theft and theft-scheme. Court records indicate that Liller has been accused of stealing property or services valued from $1,000 to under $10,000 in violation of Md. Code Ann. [Crim.] §7-104. A summons was issued on Nov. 16.
These actions allegedly occurred between Aug. 15-Sept. 15 based on a complaint filed by Jabari Lyles, the president of the GLCCB board of directors and the center’s acting executive director.
The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s office would not release charging documents in advance of the trial, but information obtained by the Blade indicates that the amount allegedly stolen was valued at $8,156.76. This includes various art supplies, crafting supplies, office supplies, transactions related to the ill-fated Halloween fundraiser OutRageous and unauthorized payment of wages to Liller.
The complaint filed by Lyles was on behalf of the GLCCB. “We need to send a clear message that we will no longer as an organization tolerate these types of actions,” Lyles told the Blade. “We have a duty to protect community assets and report to the proper authorities any suspicions of impropriety. We have faith that the state will lead a fair and accurate investigation with our support and cooperation.”
Liller appeared before District Court Judge Diana A. E. Smith without representation on Dec. 17. He explained to the court that he had not received the official documentation prior to his appearance as there had been an error in both his name and address on the court document. Liller told the Blade he found out about the summons because of information in the online Maryland Judiciary Case Search.
At the Dec. 17 proceeding, the state was granted a trial postponement to allow for the receipt of bank records the prosecution had sought. Judge Smith explained to Liller the options for legal representation, which he is pursuing.
“I cannot speak on specifics regarding the case, but I do look forward to my name being cleared, and the truth coming out,” Liller told the Blade. “When you have nothing to hide, you have no need to fear the judicial system.”
If convicted of these crimes, which are felonies, Liller, 33, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum $10,000 fine for each of the charges. Additionally, if convicted, Liller could be ordered to make restitution.
As coordinator of the 40th anniversary of Baltimore Pride held July 25-26, it was Liller’s second stint (2009) in that capacity on behalf of the GLCCB. With considerable support from community members and local businesses, Liller brought the block party back to its traditional location in the Mount Vernon neighborhood following the controversial shift in 2014 to the Mount Royal area several blocks to the north. He also returned the Sunday festival to Druid Hill Park.
Since becoming the GLCCB’s Pride coordinator in late 2014, Liller was appointed the GLCCB’s development coordinator and then deputy director and acting executive director following the resignation of Joel Tinsley-Hall effective July 6.
Soon after the Pride celebrations concluded, rumors began surfacing throughout Baltimore’s LGBT community of missing money from Pride’s coffers. There were also concerns about the perceived absence of accounting for outlays.
Those questions, coupled with Liller’s sudden resignation on Oct. 13, motivated GLCCB’s leadership to hold a public town hall on Nov. 10 to address those matters as well as to provide community members an opportunity to discuss broader GLCCB issues.
At that meeting, Lyles and others charged that Liller used bad judgment in procuring the amount of T-shirts for Pride as well as creating the OutRageous event without authorization. He said that other financial questions were being investigated and that tighter financial controls were being put in place.
“Regarding allegations of mismanagement for both OutRageous and Pride T-Shirts, I will say that during my time at the GLCCB, all my decisions were either run through the former executive director Joel Tinsley-Hall or the board of directors,” he told the Blade the next day, although he was not present at the meeting. “Accurate financials were provided monthly during board meetings. The GLCCB board was involved in decisions made as they chose to be at the time.” He noted it was strange that there are no minutes for those meetings.
The trial is set for Jan. 29, 2016, at Baltimore District Court, 700 E. Patapsco Ave. in Baltimore.