Mary Treadwell, executive director of Youth Pride Inc., made a brief appearance before a U.S. grand jury yesterday, and told reporters that she offered the court the deed to her house in exchange for a court-appointed lawyer because she cannot afford her own legal defense.
"I am without counsel and have exhausted all my contacts in the legal world. I have met with well over 20 attorneys in my efforts," Treadwell said in an extraordinarily detailed four-page statement that she released yesterday in the U.S. District court.
After a brief appearance before the grand jury, Treadwell spent two hours giving samples of her handwriting to federal prosecutors. During that session, Treadwell said that assistant U.S. Attorney William D. Pease, who has been supervising the Pride investigation, agreed that her inability to hire a lawyer "was a hell of a problem."
Until yesterday, Treadwell steadfastly has refused to comment on the 17-month investigation. Federal authorities are probing published reports that she and two other officials of P.I. Properties, a real estate spinoff of Youth Pride, stole misappropriated and diverted $600,000 from the federal government and low-income tenants in the Clifton Terrace Apartments in Northwest Washington.
Yesterday, contending she has been "tried publicly," Treadwell reiterated her denial of any wrongdoing, saying she had never "ever stolen a penny from any of the corporations I have been involved in."
Treadwell, who said she earns $30,000 a year, said in the statement that she knows that her income puts here "clearly above" guidelines set out by the courts for appointment of lawyers, which are usually made in cases involving poor defendents.
"Yet, I cannot afford a defense," she said. "I have lived in this community 17 years. I have sold my car and am prepared, indeed anxious, to liquidate the only property I have been able to acquire in all that time in order to defend myself against any possible criminal charges."
Treadwell came to the federal courthouse yesterday in response to an order by Chief Judge William B. Bryant that she immediately make the routine appearance before the grand jury to certify that she is the official custodian of the records of about a dozen Pride-related organizations under investigation or face a comtempt-or-court citation.
Last month, federal prosecutors accused her of a "concerted effort to delay and frustrate" their investigation and suggested that Treadwell was switching lawyers -- the prosecutors say they have dealt with four so far -- as a way of impeding progress in the case.
Treadwell said yesterday, however, that her intentions were otherwise. "The whole thing has been about trying to secure counsel and pay counsel," she said, adding that she has paid $16,000 to $18,000 in legal fees so far. Estimates of her legal bill have ranged as high as $200,000, she said.
In the statement, Treadwell contended that she has been unable to secure legal help because she cannot come up with the money, usually in the $10,000 range, that the lawyers allegedly demanded from the outset.
Treadwell said she had given her first lawyer, R. Kenneth Mundy, a $100,000 not on her house to insure his legal fee because Treadwell did not have the needed cash. Since then, Treadwell said Mundy has agreed to release the note in exchange for $4,700 in legal fees.
Treadwell's home is located at 411 7th St. NE. She said the house has been "conservatively" appraised at $160,000, and has $53,000 in outstanding mortgages.
She said yesterday that part of her inability to find a buyer or secure refinancing stemmed from constant newspaper coverage of the Pride investigation and the fact that any such transaction would receive extensive publicity because the name of her former husband, Mayor Marion Barry, appears on the property records.
In explaining her difficulties in obtaining legal representation, Treadwell said yesterday that in December 1979, with Mundy's approval, she retained attorney Seymour Glanzer to represent her in the course of government's investigation.
Treadwell said she paid Glanzer $5,000 out of a $15,000 retainer he requested.Glanzer refused yesterday to comment on his arrangements with Treadwell, citing ethical obligations.
Treadwell said that Glanzer's law firm, Dickstein, Shapiro & Morin, terminated their representation of her last July and informed her she was $10,000 behind on her payments under a retainer agreement.
Last November, Treadwell said she contacted the law firm of Tigar, Buffone & Doyle, but she was unable to work out an agreement with the firm for legal representation.