A Prince George's circuit judge has overturned a lower court order directing former Calvert County state's attorney Naji Maloof to pay the estate of his late millionaire uncle an amount equal to the value of rare tapestries, jade and ivory that allegedly vanished from the dead man's Oxon Hill mansion.
"This has been a tremendous strain on me for seven years. I feel sort of vindicated," said Maloof, who blamed his defeat in last fall's election on the controversy over his uncle's estate.
Last week's ruling by Circuit Judge Albert T. Blackwell Jr. overturned a year-old order by the Prince George's Orphans Court directing Maloof to reimburse the estate for items valued in excess of $18,000.
It was Maloof, according to court documents and testimony, who supervised the removal of his eccentric uncle's vast collection of art and historical treasures in the early morning hours of April 5, 1972, allegedly for safekeeping.
Malookf, the orphans court held, had "breached his trust" and was "responsible for the items which are clearly missing" from his uncle's estate.
Maloof appealed the ruling, and, after three days of testimony last week, Blackwell ruled from the Bench that the evidence against Maloof was inconclusive.
Maloof, the judge found, was only one of several persons at the estate the night of his uncle's death. "A lot of the missing things were not actually missing," Maloof said, "and some things which were missing, nobody will ever know where they are."
What happened to the Maloof collection was the subject of an inconclusive grand jury probe five years ago, during which Naji Maloof turned in items worth $54,000.