The evening he was arrested on a cocaine charge, Maryland developer and racetrack owner Mark Raymond Vogel dined with a Northern Virginia real estate broker charged earlier this year in connection with a scheme to trade machine guns for cocaine.
Carter Vincent Boehm, a real estate broker and developer, was indicted in June by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute, conspiracy to encourage perjury and tampering with a witness.
Vogel dined with Boehm and two women at the Prime Rib restaurant in the District and was en route to Boehm's home off Georgetown Pike in Great Falls on Sept. 13 when his sports car was stopped by Fairfax police and agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, sources said.
Authorities found four grams of cocaine, worth $400, in Vogel's car, sources said. Vogel was charged with possession of cocaine by Fairfax police, who said they were cooperating with the DEA. Vogel's attorney, Plato Cacheris, said that his client intends to plead not guilty.
"Mr. Vogel has nothing to do with this matter involving Mr. Boehm," Cacheris said. "To my knowledge, they are involved in a legitimate business project and that is all."
Neither Boehm nor his attorney, Nicholas Balland, returned numerous telephone calls from a reporter yesterday. A spokesman for the DEA said that Vogel and Boehm "are both under investigation . . . in the same general investigation," but declined to comment further.
Federal law enforcement sources have said that Vogel is among a circle of area developers and lawyers under investigation for alleged drug activity. Investigators also are looking at their involvement in land transactions and zoning decisions, sources said. Vogel, who owns Rosecroft Raceway in Oxon Hill and Delmarva Downs near Ocean City, Md., also is the developer of the Bowie New Towne Center, a 345-acre retail, office and residential project in Prince George's County, as well as numerous Northern Virginia projects. Vogel is experiencing financial difficulties on several fronts, including a pending foreclosure sale of the Villages of Belmont residential development in Prince George's County and a $600,000 federal tax lien.
Last week, he agreed to step aside from the daily management of Rosecroft Raceway. Members of the Maryland Racing Commission, which regulates the horse-racing industry, said that they had decided earlier this month to force Vogel's removal from the day-to-day operations if he did not voluntarily step aside. They have said they were concerned about complaints that he was not promptly paying horse owners their winnings, as well as reports that Vogel withdrew as much as $2 million in racing proceeds, apparently to support other ventures.
Another attorney for Vogel, Paul Mark Sandler, has said that his client did not believe the withdrawal of funds was improper.
Vogel also pledged track proceeds as collateral, along with other assets, for a Riggs National Bank loan on the $400 million Bowie New Towne Center.
Vogel and Boehm have been partners in the development of a 750-acre recreational vehicle park near Fredericksburg, Va., former business associates said. Boehm, who owns Carter Boehm Cos. of Alexandria and Townside Partners Realtors, has been active for several years in Northern Virginia development.
Boehm was indicted on June 22 by a federal grand jury in Roanoke on charges that he conspired with Robert Brian Leith, Edward P. Stuart and Robert Gregory Brownell to possess at least a kilogram of cocaine, court records show.
According to the indictment, Stuart negotiated with an undercover agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to trade money and automatic machine guns for a kilogram of cocaine. Stuart and Leith, who allegedly supplied an automatic M-11 9mm pistol, met the undercover agent in Charlottesville. After discussing the arranged cocaine swap, they were arrested, according to the indictment and prosecutors.
"The investigation continued to the point where Boehm and Brownell were identified as the people who had hired Leith and Stuart to set up a drug deal," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ray "Rusty" Fitzgerald, who is prosecuting the case.
The indictment alleges that Boehm, acting "in person and through Brownell," offered Leith $50,000 to obtain the cocaine, and after Leith's arrest, hired an attorney to represent him. The indictment also states that Boehm, in the presence of an undercover DEA agent posing as an attorney for Leith, admitted that he knew about the cocaine transaction.
Boehm also is charged with subornation of perjury for allegedly instructing Leith to testify falsely about his participation in the scheme and agreeing to pay his legal expenses.
The indictment also charges that Brownell gave Leith a check for $10,000 and suggested that he go to Canada to avoid trial.
At the bond hearing for Boehm and Brownell, their attorneys said the men intended to turn the drugs over to the DEA, Fitzgerald said. "He did not claim to be an informant for the DEA, but he asserted that he was conducting his own undercover investigation, the results of which he would turn over to the DEA," Fitzgerald said. "The government's view is that is not the way that business is done, and frankly . . . we did not believe it."
Staff writer Marilyn W. Thompson and researcher Bridget Roeber contributed to this report.