Former Baltimore County Councilman Gary Huddles' longtime campaign treasurer and boyhood friend testified yesterday that he had wondered whether Mr. Huddles should borrow from campaign funds -- but never doubted the money would be repaid.
Herbert S. Kasoff, 52, of Pikesville was called as a prosecution witness as Mr. Huddles' trial began on charges of theft and breach of duty under state election law.
According to evidence yesterday, Mr. Huddles wrote four checks totaling $50,379 on the campaign account in 1987, signed Mr. Kasoff's name -- with the treasurer's permission -- and repaid the money with interest in January 1989.
With the money back in the account, Mr. Kasoff said, he wrote to contributors, offering to return their money or donate it to charity according to the election law.
Baltimore County Circuit Judge Barbara Kerr Howe is hearing the criminal case without a jury.
Mr. Huddles, a four-term Democratic councilman representing the 2nd District, had a campaign war chest of $90,000 to return because he declined to file as a candidate for any office in 1986. He was considered a front-runner for county executive and a possible candidate for Congress -- until the revelation that he had borrowed and not repaid $60,000 from former Old Court Savings and Loan President Jeffrey A. Levitt. That loan was repaid later.
Mr. Kasoff said he told Mr. Huddles upon accepting the post of treasurer in 1970 that his wholesale liquor business in Glen Burnie would prevent him from supervising the campaign's funds full time. So, he said, he gave Mr. Huddles the oral power of attorney to sign Mr. Kasoff's name to checks on the campaign account.
Mr. Kasoff testified that in 1987, when Mr. Huddles wanted to borrow money for stock investments and personal expenses, "I asked 'Is this proper to do this? Is it legal?' and he told me he had a legal opinion it was, and I said, 'OK -- and when you pay it back, pay it back with interest.' "
Mr. Kasoff told the prosecutor he knew the money would be repaid without a written promise " 'cause he told me it would be. I never found any transaction over the years . . . ever anything but what he said. Call it trust."