Former Maryland governor Marvin Mandel, who just tasted victory in the case of the U.S. vs. Marvin Mandel, may not be so lucky in the case of the missing Maryland furniture.

The state still wants to collect more than $3,200 from the former governor for nine pieces of furniture he took when moving out of the ornate Annapolis governor's mansion more than 16 months ago.

"We've been trying to collect for the best part of a year," J. Max Millistone, secretary of the state's General Service Department, said yesterday.

Mandel, whose 1977 political corruption conviction was reversed on appeal two weeks ago, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Millstone said the furniture, including two leather wing chairs, a $1,000 chesterfield sofa, an oak rolltop desk and a tortoise lamp, was bought with the understanding Mandel would take it with him when he left and repay the state.

The general services secretary said he had even spoken to former Acting Gov. Blair Lee III to get some help, and Lee agreed to "try to see to the collection."

Lee, however, said "That's one of the most preposterous ideas I ever heard. I was not involved... nor do I intend to be. I don't want to go into the collection business."

Millstone responded that Lee may "may have had more important things on his mind after we talked about the furniture and forgotten (the conversation)."

The Mandels, according to Lee, also left some of their own possessions behind in the mansion, including a green vinyl chair and sofa and "Marvin's famous white marble bust of himself." It probably still resides in one of the mansion's third-floor closets, Lee said. The bust was given to Mandel at a testimonial years ago.

As to the $3,200, Millstone is pinning his hopes on the approximately $31,000 in back salary Mandel is owed by the state.

"I expect the fact that he was not collecting salary for a long period of time" is the reason we don't have the money already, said Millstone. "He wasn't in a position to pay... there haven't been any letters sent.

"As soon as he receives his salary, he'll pay," said Millstone. "I'm sure."