The former roommate and lover of Glenn I. Wright testified yesterday that Wright planned and carried out the July 19 kidnaping of the wife of a wealthy businessman here "because his [Wright's] business was in big trouble and he really didn't see any way out.
" 'This could actually be a way out for me,' " the witness, Orland D. Tolden, 26, testified Wright told him early in July at a condominium the two men shared in Houston.
Wright, 42, and a codefendant, Dennis Moss, 26, also of Houston, are on trial in U.S. District Court here on kidnaping charges growing out of the abduction of Edith Rosenkranz, 60, from the Sheraton Washington Hotel. Rosenkranz was freed unharmed on the Mall after her husband, George, the founder of a pharmaceutical firm, paid a$1 million ransom.
The money was recovered.
Tolden pleaded guilty on Sept. 11 in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to kidnap and is being held in the D.C. Jail awaiting sentencing.
" 'Her husband can afford it,' " Tolden quoted Wright as telling him. " 'He has the money and he'll give me the money I'm asking for.' "
Tolden testified that when he questioned Wright's plan, Wright told him, " 'Oh, believe me, he won't go to the police. The man cares a great deal about his wife.' "
District Judge Oliver Gasch halted the proceedings abruptly in late afternoon after Wright, who appeared agitated by Tolden's testimony, asked through his lawyer to be excused. The trial resumes today.
Earlier yesterday, prosecutors Charles J. Harkins Jr. and Pamela B. Stuart played tapes of several telephone ransom demands recorded by the FBI at the Rosenkranz's Sheraton hotel room. Moss' sister, Gwendolyn Smith of Norfolk, testified that the voice was her brother's.
Tolden testified he met Wright at a party in Houston in 1980 and that the two men were roommates and lovers for about 2 1/2 years. They separated for about a year, Tolden said, but were living together again last summer.
In early July, Tolden testified, Wright was "very depressed" about his business, a real estate tax shelter brokerage. But, according to Tolden, Wright told him that he might have a plan for solving his financial problems.
Tolden testified that Wright later learned from a friend, Edward M. Wold, a professional bridge player and bridge team manager, that the Rosenkranzes planned to attend a bridge tournament in Washington in mid-July.
" 'I think I've come up with a solution,' " Tolden said Wright told him. " 'What would you say if I told you I'm going to kidnap someone?' "
Tolden said he laughed, but that Wright told him, " 'I'm dead serious.' "
Tolden testified that Wright had asked him to accompany him to Washington and that Tolden was to tell anyone who asked, that Wright had been with Tolden at all times as a tourist.
"He Wright was on his knees, pleading, begging me to come to Washington ," Tolden testified. "He said, 'I really need your help.' "
"I began to cry and he got really mad. He said, 'I can't believe you'd be so selfish after all I've done for you over the years.' He promised that I'd have nothing to do with it the kidnaping ."
Tolden said he agreed to come.
Wright and Tolden flew to Washington on July 13 and Wright, an accomplished bridge player, began frequenting the tournament at the Sheraton, according to Tolden.
Tolden testified that Wright had introduced him to Moss in Houston two days earlier. "He said, 'Well, believe it or not I think I've found my man who's going to do the job for me,' " Tolden said.
Tolden testified that Moss later joined them at the Holiday Inn on Thomas Circle in Washington and that Wright and Moss discussed the kidnap plan in their hotel room.
Two days before the kidnaping, Tolden testified, he and Wright were at the Sheraton talking to Wold, the manager of Rosenkranz's bridge team, when a man joined them. As Tolden and Wright walked away, Tolden said, Wright said to him, " 'Not that you need to know, but that's Dr. George Rosenkranz, the man who's going to pay me a million dollars.' " Tolden testified the kidnaping was planned for July 18, but that Wright called it off because Edith Rosenkranz did not appear that day at the tournament.
The next evening, he testified, he drove Moss, who was armed with Wright's .38 revolver, to the Sheraton. Tolden said he was outside the hotel's main entrance later when he heard a scream and saw Moss dragging Edith Rosenkranz toward the hotel parking lot.
Lawyers for Wright and Moss are expected to question Tolden today