A judge set bail at $200,000 yesterday for Catherine M. Cicoria, who spent 73 days as a fugitive -- most of it in Mexico -- rather than stand trial with her husband, former Prince George's County Council member Anthony J. Cicoria.
Catherine Cicoria has been jailed at the Prince George's Correctional Center since surrendering Dec. 12, the day her husband was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing more than $60,000 in campaign funds. Judge Robert C. Nalley set bail for her yesterday over the objection of prosecutor Scott Nevin, who warned that she may flee again.
"She's still very unstable," said Nevin.
Because of the high amount of the bail and other conditions Nalley set for her release, it was unclear whether the judge's ruling will have any practical benefit for Cicoria, whose trial is scheduled for next month. She arrived at the Upper Marlboro courthouse in handcuffs yesterday and was returned to the jail after the hearing.
Cicoria, 52, who was her husband's campaign chairman, is charged with one count each of theft and conspiracy, three counts of filing false Maryland income tax returns, and seven counts of perjury for allegedly signing fraudulent campaign finance reports from 1984 to 1989.
After emerging from hiding last month, Cicoria told Nalley she had been "scared to death" of facing a jury and had spent "quite some time" in Mexico while a fugitive. She repeated that explanation yesterday, but said she has since recuperated emotionally and is ready to stand trial.
"I will not let the court down," she said. "I will be here. I have to face this thing. I have to get it behind me, get on with my life."
Nalley showed some reluctance to set bail.
"To be quite frank," the judge said, "I'm also concerned about looking damn foolish if you bolt . . . . I'd look like a goat."
But Cicoria said, "I won't do that to you, sir."
Nalley gave her the benefit of the doubt in setting bail. But there may still be obstacles to her release.
When Nalley asked how she planned to raise bail money, Cicoria's attorney, Joseph L. Gibson Jr., replied that Tommie Broadwater Jr. "would be handling that." Broadwater, a former state senator and longtime friend of Anthony Cicoria's, is a professional bail provider in Prince George's.
However, among Nalley's conditions for her release was a requirement that she move into a friend's home in Laurel under an electronic monitoring program run by the county's Department of Corrections.
Corrections officials have said that under department policy, defendants accepted into the electronic monitoring program must obtain bail money from sources other than professional bail providers.
Gibson said after the hearing he was unaware of such a policy. As an alternative, he said, Cicoria could post her own bail, using equity in the house she and her husband own in the 4000 block of College Heights Drive, near Hyattsville. Gibson said he did not know if the couple had enough equity in the house to meet the bond requirements.
Nalley also ordered that Cicoria work full time while free, and barred her from writing personal checks or possessing credit cards.