Jeffrey Levitt, the embattled owner of the Old Court Savings and Loan Association of Baltimore, arranged a $60,000 loan to a member of the Baltimore County Council nearly three years ago, on which the councilman has not repaid any of the principal or interest.
The loan to Gary Huddles, a 15-year member of the County Council who is considering a race for Baltimore County executive or U.S. representative in 1986, was never reported on financial disclosure forms that he is required to file with county authorities.
Huddles owes more than $21,000 in interest on the loan, which is now on the books of Old Court. Reports of management problems at Old Court and possible criminal wrongdoing triggered a state-wide savings and loan industry crisis in May.
"There was no quid pro quo," Huddles said. "I was never approached for favors."
The $60,000 loan to Huddles came from Monumental City Service Corp., a subsidiary of First Progressive Savings and Loan Association, a thrift that merged with Old Court in 1984. Jeffrey Levitt, a principal owner of Old Court, was an officer at First Progressive at the time and arranged the loan for Huddles. Neither Levitt nor his lawyer could be reached for comment.
Huddles, in a telephone interview today, said that he had not yet made any payments on the loan. He also said, "There was never any intention not to pay the debt. There was no impropriety on Mr. Levitt's part or mine." Huddles said last night he would try to pay off the loan Thursday.
Huddles said that the first time he was notified by Monumental City Service Corp. demanding payment was last February and that he followed up that delinquency notice with a phone call in May, shortly after the first reports of management difficulties at Old Court. Huddles said that notice identified the loan as a second mortgage loan.
"No one was attempting to evade any responsibility," Huddles said. "There was an understanding that the interest was accumulating and I was responsible. We are certainly going to pay it off . . . . There was absolutely no conversation with Levitt to indicate this was anything but a loan. This is not anything I am ashamed of."
Huddles, 46, represents the 2nd Councilmanic District in Baltimore County, the jurisdiction that surrounds the city of Baltimore. His district includes some of the county's most affluent communities, including Pikesville and Randallstown, home of the Old Court branch that experienced the heaviest withdrawals during the May savings and loan crisis.
Huddles is known as a bright and knowledgeable member of the council, but one whose law practice and business activities sometimes kept him away from council business. He has been a longtime political ally of Maryland Senate President Melvin A. Steinberg, and is widely regarded as a likely and formidable candidate for county executive, or Congress if Rep. Barbara Mikulski runs for the U.S. Senate. He raised about $100,000 at a June 18 fund-raiser.
Huddles said he approached Levitt about a loan in the summer of 1982 to cover business expenses and Levitt arranged it. He initially said the loan was taken as a second mortgage on his home, but later said it might have been a personal loan since it was never recorded in the county land records as a second mortgage. A search of the records confirms that no second mortgage was placed on his home.
Asked why he had never made any payments on the loan, Huddles said, "I was involved in a business for a while and there were some business problems. You try to stretch some things out as much as you can. From a financial standpoint it was best for me not to pay it. There was never any other understanding between me and Mr. Levitt."
Huddles said he had known Levitt for about 10 years and had done some unspecified legal work for the Old Court owner.
Baltimore County's rules require county officials to disclose all real estate holdings, including any liens or encumbrances. It also requires the disclosure of any gifts from any persons doing business with the county or who are regulated by the county. The rules do not specifically address personal loans.
Huddles' disclosure forms from 1982 through 1984 make no mention of the $60,000 loan.
"I guess it was a personal loan . . . .To that extent I thought it didn't have to be on the financial disclosure," Huddles said.