A seamless collusion of criminality and politics once earned Baltimore the name of ‘Mob Town” long before there was any national crime syndicate and most to the crime in the (once) Free State appears to remain home grown. The early history is fascinating as well as sordid but the more contemporary misdeeds are far more relevant.
State Senator Tommy Broadwater went to Federal Prison for a $1,000,000 food stamp fraud. He is now back in the Maryland General Assembly and pretends to be a ‘Law and Order’ guy who pushes the agenda of ‘unilateral victim disarmament’. This is a common ploy of the more corrupt and power-hungry politicians.
One of the more tabloid-worthy scandals in Maryland involved the States Attorney for Baltimore County. Sam Green seemed to have it all, and some saw him as a home-grown JFK. He had a lovely wife, good looks, and charm. As a Democrat, he could seemingly retain his office for life but was expected to use it as a springboard for something better. He was rather dictatorial to his staff and a raise was often preceded by a mandatory kickback. Some of his female staffers were hired off of The Block. Their skills were not the sort appropriate for most offices. Sam Green was also fond of accepting ‘carnal bribes’ and attractive young ladies charged with minor offenses could settle matters ‘out of court’ in his locked office. There was a bit of a staff rebellion and someone blew the whistle of Sam. One favorite way of hitting back at this office tyrant was urination in the iced tea that staffers were obliged to fetch for him. He was convicted, disbarred, and imprisoned.
Attorney Thomas Raimondi switched parties and ran for Congress as a Republican in 1968. He narrowly defeated the better-known Sam Cullota in the primary. He was in a seemingly unwinnable district but kept demanding more support from the GOP. When Governor Agnew was elevated to the vice-presidency, the State Legislature got to choose an new Governor. Raimondi offered a $100,000 bribe to Baltimore County State Senator John Bishop. The State Senator was in the loop for distributing National GOP money and a man with a high reputation for integrity. The bribe attempt was reported and evidence was gained. Raimondi appeared to have re-joined the Democrats and been awarded some lucrative sinecures.
Attorney Lalit Ghadia had better luck. He was well-connected in Maryland political circles and was the campaign treasurer of Governor Parris Glendening. His angry face was frequently seen during the investigation of the vote fraud that allowed his candidate to steal the 1994 Gubernatorial election. Given the judicial climate in Maryland, he was not investigated for any wrongdoing in the State election but was later tried and convicted on Federal money laundering charges. Beneficiaries included future Senators Sarbanes and Cardin and current Majority Whip Steney Hoyer. Illegal offshore contributions (from the Indian government) were funneled through waiters and bus boys at a local restaurant to disguise their true source. Soon after his release, Ghadia was restored to the bar and back on the fundraising circuit.
Legal ethics does not allow a single attorney to represent both sides in dispute. However, in the aftermath of the disputed 1994 election, the legal struggle between Daniel Earnshaw of the State Administrative Board of Election Law (SABEL) and Baltimore City Election Board head Barbara Jackson, Deputy Attorney General Ralph Tyler represented the opposing parties. Had this been an uncontested divorce, it would have been a breach of legal ethics. A case involving allegations of stealing of an election must have been seen as trivial.
A few bit players in the election fiasco did get some judicial slaps on the wrist. “Tame” Republican George Beall found a technological panacea in the adoption of the Diebold touch-screen voting machines. While some conspiracy theorists on the Left blame them for being rigged to allow Bush to win his last race, the only way rigging is possible is through the efforts of corrupt voting officials in places where there is one party rule. Places such as Baltimore City. Both Beall and Tyler are now the best of buddies and both served on the O’Malley transition team.
Judges appointed by Liberal politicians could be hacks chosen to return past favors but they do seem to be thug-friendly. The reversal of the death sentence of Joe Metheney provides an example. Metheney is a serial killer who is proud of his work. After one acquittal, he openly bragged about the effectiveness of his lies. One rape and murder carried the ‘aggravating circumstance’ (rape) needed to get him the needle. His attorney argued that while his client did rape and murder the victim, the rape took place only after the victim had died. This was therefore not a crime. The judges bought the quaint argument. His boasting of his crimes are posted on the Internet.
Judicial posts in Maryland are used as rewards for the faithful. The Governor appoints a hack to the post and the ‘sitting judge’ must run for office in the next election. A fig-leaf of bipartisanship is maintained by having the judges cross-file and appear on both the Republican and Democrat primary ballots. While other candidates may file, this practice is discouraged by the politically-astute legal committee and regularly denounced on the editorial pages of the Baltimore Sun. The ‘sitting judges’ allegedly ‘run on their record’ but unlike legislators, there is no record that can be readily accessed. Former Governor Glendening packed the courts to such an extent that his successor would have little opportunity to make a change in the judicial climate. The voters did the unthinkable and bounced three of the hacks he appointed. Three decent judges made it to the bench.
Certain jurisdictions are eagerly sought by lawyers whose clients are charged with particularly vile crimes. Soft prosecutors and thug-sympathetic jurors provide a hope of beating the rap to the worst of the worst. Liberal Montgomery County, MD is one thug haven. Then States Attorney Gansler made a big deal about the “Beltway Bushwhackers” and wanted to try the deadly duo. The litigious and politically-astute Montgomery County Police Chief (Mush-Mouth) Moose seemed to be helping the killers by revealing a ‘profile’ quite different from what was known on the inside. The killers were allegedly a pair of redneck gun-crazies in a white van. One of the killers had frequently taunted the police and they did not sound like a ‘good ol’ boy’. Gansler wanted to score some political points but under Maryland law, serial killing is not a death penalty offense. Virginia takes a sterner view. So why try the case in Maryland? Would a Maryland conviction allow Malvo to escape the needle or did Gansler just want some headlines? He is now Attorney General of Maryland.
The Morons of Monkey County may have made the attorneys for Benjamin Sifrits seek a change of venue to that county’s court after arrest for the brutal murder of Virginia residents Joshua Ford and Martha Crutchly. The deadly duo lured the vacationing couple to their apartment and then robbed and murdered them before chopping up the bodies and disposing of the remains. The Eastern Shore of Maryland is not a home to that many murders and this case became an instant sensation as the details were released. Erika seems to be a thrill-thug and her former SEAL hubby tried to convince the jury that he was merely a servile and hen-pecked spouse who was whipped into submission by a wife with a degree from a prestigious college and her own business. The wife was tried in Frederick County and got life but ‘Not So Gentle’ Ben got only 38 years in Montgomery County.
The sorry record of Baltimore City States Attorney Patricia Jessamy as a ‘thug hugger’ is demonstrated by some of her actions. Her recent threat to prosecute two ‘whistleblowers’ who expose the criminal tolerance of the local ACORN office may well be dropped after most Democrats threw their ally under the wheels of what seems to be a political Juggernaut. She has decided to indict a medical student who used a Samurai sword to terminate a career thug.
Her record of making life safer for violent criminals goes back to the beginning of her career.
Consider the matter of James Edward Scott. Scott was an elderly and law abiding black man who lived in a rough neighborhood on West North Avenue. Local punks took offense at his failing to cower in his home. They taunted him when he worked on his old truck in his back yard. His home had been burglarized several times and he legally acquired a .22 caliber rifle for protection. When a young female with a criminal record attempted a home invasion, he struggled with her and the rifle discharged. The woman suffered a wound to her leg. Both parties were charged and Scott’s rifle was confiscated. The woman knew how to game the system and her charges were plea bargained away. Rather than try the old man and give him his day in court, his case was put on the inactive docket and his rifle remained in the custody of the police. He was strangled to death in the next invasion of his home.
Then Mayor O’Malley was a political ally of Jessamy’s and his response to violent crime in Baltimore was a slogan. The magic word was believe. Citizens were exhorted to believe that they could do something about the criminals who seemed to believe that they owned the urban streets. Believe appeared in billboards and on flashing signs in the more crime-ridden neighborhoods. They might have led some non-residents to believe that they were in a good place to make assignation or score some drugs.
Angela Dawson believed and she did so at her own peril. She reported Darrell Brooks for his blatant drug dealing in front of the family home. Darrell had beaten his last drug charge and was given a political sinecure to ‘straighten him out’. Darrell sent a rebuke to Mrs. Dawson with a Molotov cocktail that failed to ignite. The second one worked and Mrs. Dawson and her five children were killed in the fire. Husband Carnell Dawson later died of his injuries. Brooks certainly earned the death penalty but Gentle Jessamy gave him life without parole. This did not assure that he will not get an early out on some pretext.
This mass murder seemed to be in the spirit of the “Stop Snitchin” DVD that was one an urban favorite. The public outcry over this bit of preemptive witness intimidation led to the arrest and conviction of two City Police detectives for their active role in the local drug trade. Both got sent up for three-digit terms. Note that the trial was held in Federal Court and that Jessamy was not involved.
The people of Baltimore are ill served by the political hacks who infest all aspects of public life. Things are not that much better in the rest of the state.