Maryland Governor Marvin Mandel was convicted of political corruption on Aug. 23, 1977, with five men, four of his closest friends and a lawyer who worked for the group. These five -- Irvin Kovens, Harry Rodgers, William A. Rodgers, W. Dale Hess and Ernest N. Cory -- were charged with corrupting Mandel by giving him thousands of dollars of gifts and business interests in exchange for his support for legislation that benefitted the owners of the Marlboro race track in Prince George's County. Federal prosecutors charged that Kovens, Harry Rodgers, William Rodgers and Hess secretly bought and owned the Marlboro track, and made millions of dollars as a result of legislation that determined the number of racing days held there and regulated the track. According to court testimony, Mandel received about $350,000 in clothes, vacations, help with his alimony payments, and interests in business ventures from the group. Cory, prosecutors charged, helped to conceal the ownership of the track .
Hours after conviction on corruption charges was announced in August, 1977, W. Dale Hess sat in a bar at the Baltimore Hilton and soberly speculated that both his wife and son would have to go to work to make ends while he was in prison.
Yesterday, sitting in his vice president's office at Tidewater Insurance Associates, the reversal of that conviction brought much more cheerful thoughts to Hess's mind.
"I think I'll probably have a little more time to play golf now," Hess said. "I've been working every day from 6 in the morning until 10 or 11 at night, and I could use it."
Like Williams and Harry Rodgers, Hess says that his business and interests -- he owns a motel and a restaurant near his Harford County home -- have suffered no ill effects from his two trials and conviction.
But Hess's problems with the federal government have continued. The Internal Revenue Service has charged that he owes the government more than $474,000 in back taxes for the years 1972 to 1975.
But Hess said yesterday, "I'm not worried about the taxes. It's not a serious problem. I've never let these things dictate my life -- I just continue on from day to day."