Huddles lawyers were ready Not-guilty verdict had been anticipated.

November 27, 1991|By Meredith Schlow | Meredith Schlow,Evening Sun Staff

Just minutes after former Baltimore County Councilman Gary Huddles was acquitted of misusing campaign funds, his attorneys issued a press release.

Huddles' attorneys, the release said, "left the courtroom victorious."

The attorneys, Robert B. Schulman and Joshua R. Treem, were so confident of victory that they had prepared the press release before Circuit Court Judge Barbara K. Howe rendered her verdict yesterday after a two-day trial in Towson.

"We were correct when we originally stated that he was the victim of a vindictive, biased and ill-conceived prosecution by Stephen Montanarelli, state prosecutor," the statement read.

Montanarelli said today he was disappointed by the verdict.

"I disagree with the judge's interpretation of the law, though I respect her judgment," he said, adding that he doesn't think the law that mandates the dispersal of surplus campaign funds is vague.

Scott E. Nevin, senior assistant state prosecutor, said of the victors' statement, "They can say whatever they choose, that's fine with us."

The charges against Huddles stemmed from his personal use of money from his campaign account to pay stock market losses in 1987.

In delivering her verdict, Howe said that Maryland statutes relating to the case were too ambiguous to convict Huddles for violating.

"Public opinion, I would suggest in this case just as an aside, will ultimately determine the public view of Mr. Huddles," she said.

Huddles, who hugged his wife, Linda, after the verdict, said "there is no question that the court did the right thing."

"I am grateful to the court for its effort and its understanding of the election laws and of the vagaries of the election laws. . . . There was absolutely no intention on anyone's part to do anything wrong."

Huddles had $95,000 left from campaign funds he had raised in June 1985 when he planned to run for county executive. But he dropped out of politics after it was revealed a few weeks after the fund-raiser that he had benefited for three years from an unsecured $60,000 loan arranged by former Old Court Savings and Loan President Jeffrey Levitt, and had never made a payment. In weeks, Huddles paid back the loan plus interest but the damage to his political career had been done.

He didn't report borrowing the campaign funds until he filed his last spending report in August 1990. By then, he had paid back all the money and distributed the campaign fund to charities and contributors.

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