A Glen Burnie couple was found innocent here today of charges that they attempted to arrange a deal to sell secret information from the 1975 grand jury investigating political corruption charges against former governor marvin Mandel and his associates.
The jury deliberated in U.S. District Court here for about nine hours over two days and found Donna B. Brown, 35, and her husband, Robert L. Brown, 35, innocent of a charge of corruptly endeavoring to influence a grand juror.
Mrs. Brown was overcome with emotion when the verdict was read. She shrieked with joy and tears streamed down her cheeks as she hugged both her attorney and her husband in the courtroom.
Afterwards, Brown commented, "we really didn't win. We lost. we spent almost $10,000 for attorneys' fees."
The trial revolved around the Browns' long friendship with Diane Lawrence, who became a member of the grand jury investigating Mandel, Marlboro Race Track and Mandel's friends at the Tidewater Insurance Associates Inc., Harry W. Rodgers III, William A. Rodgers and W. Dale Hess.
The FBI taped 11 conversations between Lawrence and Mrs. Brown during their investigation to see if Brown was serious when she told Lawrence in a Baltimore County nightclub that they could probably get $1 million each if they could sell the secret grand jury information to "people at Tidewater."
Lawrence immediately reported the offer to federal prosecutors and was removed from the grand jury investigation.
The Browns contended during the trial, which began June 11, that the entire incident was a joke on Diane Lawrence and they did not remember it until after they were charges with jury tampering in 1978.
Harry Rodgers testified last week that a Harford County contractor, Warren Eastburn, asked him whether he was interested in knowing what areas the grand jury was investigating.
"When he said there was someone on the grand jury who would talk, I asked him to find out what he could and come back," Rodgers testified. "When I found out money was involved in the transaction, I told him to forget it."
Mrs. Brown was convicted April 16 of a charge of perjury for telling another grand jury that she did not remember the alleged scheme. She's scheduled for sentencing July 2 and could receive up to five years in jail plus a $5,000 fine.
Mandel, the two Rodgers, Hess, Irvin Kovens and Ernest Cory Jr. were convicted of political corruption charges in 1977. Those convictions were overturned on appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which is now reconsidering its decision.