Sylman I. Euzent, the attorney for a man convicted of luring investors into a $1 billion new town development scheme on Maryland's Eastern Shore that turned out to be a fraud, was convicted last night on two counts of false pretense in connection with the projects. He was acquitted of two other counts.
Euzent, a Rockville attorney, was found guilty by a Montgomery County Circuit Court jury of cooperating in 1976 with Paul A. Toneman to defraud two area businessmen by taking $32,500 from them as investments in Patone Village, which was to have been built in rural Worcester County. Euzent could receive up to 20 years in prison.
Euzent received $20,000 from Toneman after the men made their investment. The prosecution contended that money was Euzent's share of the take, while the defense claimed it was merely legal fees Euzent was entitled to.
Toneman was convicted in 1977 of seven counts of fraud in connection with the scheme and is serving a 29 year sentence in the state penitentiary.
The prosecution conceded throughout the trial that Euzent's role in the scheme was secondary to Toneman's. Toneman billed the proposed new town as the "Eastern Shore Columbia" and told investors it would be financed by Arab oil money and would include 60,000 homes, the world's largest shopping center, a model hospital, a yacht club and a police force larger than that of Washington, D.C.
Three of the investors allegedly defrauded by Euzent were doctors investing in the hospital.
It took the jury 7 1/2 hours to reach its verdict after lengthy closing arguments climaxed a week-long trial.
Euzent, 51, appeared unruffled during those arguments, whispering to friends behind him frequently and shaking hands amicably with prosecutor DeLawrence Beard moments after the jury retired.
Beard summed up the tone of the trial during his argument, noting, "you do not have to decide whether there was fraud involved here, you have to decide whether Mr. Euzent was a perpetrator or a victim."
Beard pointed out that on four occasions Euzent had received checks from Toneman within a few days of helping to persuade an investor to turn over a check to Toneman.
"We're talking about a man who has been a lawyer for 23 years," Beard said. "He has a corporate practice, a business practice and is a tax lawyer. He knows what is going on when money is being invested."
Euzent's attorney, James R. Miller, portrayed his client as a victim, a man, "who like so many others was taken in by Toneman. What man wouldn't have been taken in by Toneman?" Miller asked. "This man was a master.
"Remember, ladies and gentlemen, it was Aristotle who said there is a foolish corner in the brain of the wisest man. Mr. Euzent was fooled completely, like everyone else."