Huddles asks court to drop charges of campaign theft Ex-councilman cites 'vindictive prosecution'

September 03, 1991|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

Former Baltimore County Councilman Gary Huddles has asked the Circuit Court to dismiss charges that he stole $50,379 from his campaign fund to cover investment losses after the 1987 stock market crash.

In the 33-page motion, Mr. Huddles' lawyer, Robert B. Schulman, accused State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli of a "vindictive prosecution."

Mr. Huddles, 52, a former four-term Pikesville councilman, is charged with theft, fraudulent misappropriation of money for which he was responsible and violating state election law by not passing the transaction through his campaign treasurer.

Mr. Huddles did not run for any office in 1986 and had about $90,000 left from earlier fund-raisers.

He used that money in 1987 to cover investment losses and repaid it in 1989. He included the transaction in the finance report he filed last August, long after it should have been submitted.

Among the reasons Mr. Schulman offered for dismissal were:

* The prosecutor is not authorized to prosecute charges of theft and fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary.

* The statute of limitations had expired on any prosecution for Mr. Huddles' use of the money -- which subsequently was repaid with interest, then given to charities or refunded to contributors.

* Mr. Huddles was not covered by the Fair Election Practices Act because he was not a candidate when he borrowed the money from his campaign fund.

* Mr. Huddles had no financial responsibility over the campaign funds and the indictment resulted from a selective and vindictive prosecution of Mr. Huddles by Mr. Montanarelli.

Mr. Montanarelli was not available for comment yesterday.

A hearing is scheduled Friday on Mr. Schulman's request for details of the investigation. He has suggested that the prosecutor misled the grand jury that indicted Mr. Huddles.

A hearing on the dismissal motion will be held in late September. If it fails, Mr. Huddles, who practices law in Towson, is scheduled to be tried on Nov. 25.

Conviction on all counts could subject Mr. Huddles to 21 years in prison and $1,000 in fines, Mr. Montanarelli said.

In his motion, Mr. Schulman said that Maryland campaign law does not prohibit an individual from borrowing campaign funds.

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