WESTMINSTER — Barry Kolodner spoke softly in Carroll Circuit Court yesterday morning, shrinking nervously into his tan jacket and brown pants. When theprosecutor read the charges against him, whispers ran throughout thecourtroom.
Spectators and defendants awaiting trial were stunned that this Baltimore resident was charged with ordering the killing ofa man he saw as his enemy.
The 30-year-old Kolodner spoke haltingly when he said he understood the consequences of pleading guilty to hiring a county man to killMichael Blickman, also of Baltimore.
While most of the courtroom fell silent to hear Kolodner's words, the quiet was shattered occasionally by his elderly mother, who shouted, "No!" when terms of the guilty plea were discussed.
According to police and court officials, Kolodner was not a Mafia don or drug lord. But he and his associates operated on the fringes of the law, where loyalty is worth little when someone pays you to forget it.
Kolodner pleaded guilty before Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. to one count of solicitation to commit murder.
Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill told the judge that on Jan. 16, 1990, Kolodner called an undercover state trooper in Carroll County and told him he wanted to pay $1,500 to "make Michael Blickman dead."
Court records show Kolodner owed Blickman more than $8,000 lost on a gambling machine in Blickman's Baltimore arcade. Blickman had been pressuring Kolodner to pay up.
Instead of paying the money, Kolodner said he would give Blickman an illegal satellite decoder that would allow him to broadcast live horse races in his arcade.
Kolodner had been charged in Baltimore with selling the decoders and was scheduled to go to jail for six months for violating his probation by selling them again, court records show.
When Kolodner failed to give Blickman the decoder, Blickman decided to turn him in to police.
Blickman and an undercover U.S. Customs officer arranged to buy an illegal decoder from Kolodner, and he was arrested a third time on June 8, 1989, Hill said.
Angry that Blickman had "set him up," Kolodner asked a man who worked for Blickman if he knew someone who would kill for $1,500.
Instead of finding a hired gun, the man told Blickman of the murder plot, and Blickman told the state police,Hill said.
A former undercover police detective, Cpl. Frank Walters, pretended to be the hit man, Hill said.
Kolodner was given Walters' number and called him twice at a Carroll pay phone, she said.
Hill said that in the second phone call, on Jan. 16, 1990, Walters asked Kolodner twice if he was serious about wanting Blickman dead.
Kolodner said he did and that he wanted it done while he was serving the six-month prison sentence so that he would have an alibi.
Hill said that after Kolodner was read his rights, he told police he was angry at Blickman for turning him in and wanted him dead.
After hearing the statement of facts, Burns found Kolodner guilty and ordered a presentence investigation.
Sentencing in the case is scheduled for Feb. 3. In return for the guilty plea, the state has agreed to recommend that Kolodner serve 18 months in jail.