Baltimore City Council President Walter Sidney Orlinsky, charged with receiving $11,000 in bribes to help companies obtain city sludge-hauling contracts, pleaded not guilty today on all counts.
The 43-year-old Orlinsky, subdued in a gray, pin-striped suit, stood before U.S. District Court Judge Norman P. Ramsey for the brief arraignment, routinely giving his full name, age, date of birth and then, in a strong voice, proclaiming his innocence.
"I wish to plead not guilty on all counts," he said, speaking the words slowly. The courtroom clerk asked if he meant every one of the 12 counts with which he is charged. "That is correct," Orlinsky said.
After the five-minute proceeding had recessed, he sat quietly at the defense table, staring into space, while his two lawyers discussed with prosecutors the mechanics of supplying evidence to the defense for trial preparation.
The often loquacious and sometimes whimsical Orlinsky was likewise mute during his arrival and departure at the federal court house near the city's inner harbor. As television cameras and reporters clamored after him, his lawyers said he would have no comment.
The mustachioed politican, who built a career as a reformer and unsucessfully sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 1978, was indicted Tuesday. He is charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion in seeking to obtain contracts for Modern-Earthline, a Philadelphia firm that offered to haul sludge to Garrett County in far western Maryland, and two other companies.
The trial was set today to begin July 7, although the judge indicated it would more likely take place during September.
Orlinsky was accompanied today by his wife, Jo-Ann, by Earl Jordan, a friend, and by his brother, Zeke, who is publisher of the Columbia Flier, a successful Howard County tabloid.