An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge has refused to throw out a taxpayers suit that demands that former associates pay back to the Maryland treasury any money Agnew may have received as kickback when he was governor of the state.
If a kickback scheme did exist when Agnew was governor, Judge Bruce C. William ruled, then "it appears that such a scheme reasonably may cause an extra burden to be placed on the state treasury, and reasonably may lead to higher taxes for the taxpayers of Maryland."
Agnew resigned the vice presidency in 1973, just moments before pleading no contest in Baltimore to a single charge of failing to pay $13,541 in U.S. income taxes.
Agnew made the no contest plea after lengthy plea bargaining with federal prosecutors who were investigating allegations of bribery and kickbacks in the issuance of state and county contracts in Maryland.
At the same time as the former Vice President made his plea, federal prosecutors in Baltimore presented a 40-page summary of evidence allegaing that, both as governor of Maryland and later as Vice President, Agnew accepted more than $87,000 in kickbacks from architects and engineers who did business with the state of Maryland.
Repeatedly Agnew has denied these charges.
The three Montgomery County tax-payers who filed the suit against Agnew last October are asking for the return of that $87,000 and an accounting of any other money the former Vice President may have taken as kickback.
Attorneys for Agnew and Jerome B. Wolff, a codefendant in the suit who served as state roads commissioner during Agnew's tenure as governor, had argued that the three taxpayers had no standing to sue.
The attorney for cedefendan I.H. (Bud) Hammerman, an old Agnew friend who allegedly served as the intermediary for Agnew in extorting and collecting the kickbacks from contractors, had argued that the state court of equity where the suit was filed did not have jurisdication in the case.
Judge William rejected that contention as well.
Wolff and hammerman, who both turned state's evidence during the Agnew investigation in 1973, have never been found guilty of any crime in connection with the alleged kickback scheme.
Hammerman, a long-time Agnew friend who told prosecutors that he participated in a kickback scheme with Agnew and kept a perentage of the kickbacks for himself, has lost most of his once prosperous business.
Wolff, who had served briefly as Agnew's science adviser when Agnew was Vice President, has been disbarred by the Maryland Court of Appeals and recently had his engineering license suspended for five years.
By contrast Agnew, who was fined $10,000 and sentenced to three years probation after his 1973 no contest plea, has become involved in the highflying world of international finance and also written a moderately successful novel whose central character is a Vice President of the United States.
The class action suit, which was filed by John McMillan, Reina Chassy and Suzanne Saul on behalf of all Maryland taxpayers, was an outgrowth of an exercise undertaken by a George Washington University Law School class more than two years ago, according to David Scull, an attorney for the taxpayers.
The lawsuit is being paid for by the Fund for Constitutional Government, a Washington-based foundation that does public-interest litigation, Scull said.
No date has been set for trial of the case. CAPTION: Picture, SPIRO T. AGNEW . . . suit seeks $87,000 from him