A Bethesda lawyer has said in court papers that former Maryland governor Marvin Mandel and his son Gary tried two years ago to influence a Baltimore Circuit Court judge to give more favorable treatment to a convicted cocaine dealer, but that the scheme backfired and biased the judge.
Jeffrey Lee Greenspan, who practiced law with Gary Mandel until late 1983, made the allegations in a petition filed this week in Baltimore County Circuit Court -- just as Gary Mandel was about to be sentenced in an unrelated case for forging prescriptions for the narcotic painkiller Dilaudid.
The Greenspan petition asks for a resentencing for Joseph Francis Ciriago, 38, who was sentenced April 26, 1983, to 11 years for possession of cocaine and a handgun. Greenspan and Gary Mandel represented Ciriago when his sentence was imposed by Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge J. William Hinkel and in August 1983, when they considered filing a motion with the judge for Ciriago to be released on bond pending appeal, the petition said.
The petition said Marvin Mandel twice visited Judge Hinkel regarding the Ciriago case but that "Judge Hinkel had quite promptly and quite properly rejected the overtures made by Mr. Marvin Mandel, both in April 1983 and in August 1983."
The petition said that the Mandel contacts, intended to obtain favorable treatment for Ciriago, "instead . . . served to infuriate Judge Hinkel, resulting in a backlash effect." The contacts were unknown at the time to either Ciriago or to Greenspan, the petition said.
Gary Mandel said yesterday that the Greenspan allegations had been investigated by the FBI and "found to have no basis at all." FBI officials said the matter had been investigated, and that there are no indictments. "That is as much as we can say," said an FBI spokesman.
Marvin Mandel could not be reached for comment, but The Associated Press quoted him as saying, "This is the first time I've heard of it. It's ridiculous, and I don't know anything about it, so I can't comment on it."
Judge Hinkel also could not be reached for comment.
Paul R. Kramer, Gary Mandel's attorney, said it was "unfortunate" that the Greenspan petition was filed just as Gary Mandel was about to be sentenced. Mandel was sentenced Thursday to a three-year suspended sentence except for four months under a work release program. Mandel is free on bond pending the outcome of an appeal.
The petition also alleges that Gary Mandel indicated to Greenspan that he had " 'found out' that Judge Hinkel had refused to set a bond pending appeal on April 26, 1983 . . . because there had not been any money made available for 'expenses.' " Gary Mandel then indicated $5,000 would be needed for those "expenses," the petition said. It said Gary Mandel "further indicated he was prepared to tell Ciriago that he could be released pending appeal in return for the payment of $10,000," with $5,000 going to the law firm of Greenspan and Mandel and $5,000 for miscellaneous expenses, to be disbursed by Marvin Mandel.
When asked who those expenses would go to, Gary Mandel told Greenspan, "I don't know, and I don't want to know," the petition said.
Greenspan said in the petition he reported the matter to Maryland prosecutors when he learned what the Mandels were trying to do.