Spiro T. Agnew yesterday lost his legal effort to avoid paying a quarter-million-dollar judgment for accepting bribes while governor of Maryland and vice president.
The Maryland Court of Appeals in Annapolis, by refusing to hear Agnew's latest appeal, affirmed a lower court's ruling that the Republican former officeholder must repay the state $147,500 he was judged in a civil action to have taken in kickbacks from highway contractors plus $101,235 in interest, a total of $248,735.
The finding that Agnew took the bribes was reached in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court in 1981 by Judge Bruce C. Williams. Agnew has denied any wrongdoing.
Neither Agnew nor his attorney, T. Rogers Harrison, was available for comment yesterday afternoon, UPI reported.
Agnew, a Baltimore native who was the Baltimore County executive when elected governor, now lives in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He resigned as vice president in the Nixon administration after pleading no contest to tax evasion charges stemming from the same bribery scandal that led to yesterday's action.
The case began in 1976 as a George Washington University Law School project. Students, listing three Maryland taxpayers as plaintiffs, filed suit contending that Agnew should be held accountable to the public for illegal actions as governor.
Testimony showed that payoffs, normally about 5 percent of highway contracts, were collected by I. H. Hammerman, a Baltimore developer. Half the money went to Agnew, with the other half shared by Hammerman and Jerome B. Wolff, then chairman of the old State Roads Commission, the court found.
The Anne Arundel trial court's decision ordering repayment by Agnew was upheld in June by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. It was that decision that the state's highest court refused yesterday to reconsider.