Severna Park principal says she's innocent

November 05, 1992|By Kris Antonelli and Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Kris Antonelli and Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff Writers Staff writers Liz Atwood and Peter Hermann contributed to this article.

Patricia Emory says she's innocent.

The elementary school principal, charged last week as a "drug kingpin" in Anne Arundel County's largest marijuana bust, said Tuesday her arrest is politically motivated, a ploy by police and state's attorneys to get favorable publicity for themselves.

"The whole thing is so totally ridiculous," she said during a four-hour interview, in which she discussed her family, job, lifestyle and the charges against her. "This is outrageous. They said I've been a leader in this. I have no knowledge of any of it."

But police called her allegations ridiculous. They believe Mrs. Emory knew about her husband's alleged activities and reaped the benefits.

"What she says simply isn't true. We don't just arbitrarily charge people," said Lieutenant Harry Collier.

Early last Thursday morning, county police raided the Emory house and 15 other locations in the metropolitan area. They confiscated 800 pounds of marijuana, seized $320,000 and arrested 10 people.

How, police ask, could Mrs. Emory, 45, have lived in a $437,000 Pasadena house near the water and not have known something was going on? Surely she did not believe they could have afforded it on her $63,000 salary when her husband was unemployed. And what about the expensive antiques and original artwork police said they saw in the home? Where did the money come from for all that?

Detective Michael Chandler said his continuing investigation has turned up more evidence linking Mrs. Emory to the alleged drug ring, although he declined to elaborate.

"There is no doubt in my mind she knew what was going on," Detective Chandler said. "I don't charge people unless I think I can convict them. It would be a waste of everyone's time."

But Mrs. Emory says the picture of an opulent lifestyle with luxury cars, expensive antiques and piles of cash is simply wrong.

"You ask about 'all the money.' My husband and I are constantly arguing about money. We don't have lots of money," she said. "We have an ultra-conservative lifestyle. Our recreation centers around our son's soccer games. I have no good artwork. This stuff is from J. C. Penny's."

During a tour of the house yesterday, there were no antiques or original artwork on display. Most of the furniture was well worn. The living room was almost barren.

Nothing had been removed from the house, said Mrs. Emory, adding that police had videotaped every room and documented the contents.

"This is it. This is all my expensive stuff," Mrs. Emory said. "And here's my jewelry. My most expensive watch cost $25. My earrings are Monet," she added, opening a jewelry chest. "I don't own one piece of gold."

Mrs. Emory's colleagues say they believe her account and have raised $12,000 for her bail.

"Let's put it this way," said her supervisor, Nancy Mann. "A 12-hour day at Severna Park Elementary School was a short day for her. She spent 70 to 80 hours a week at the school. She didn't have time for anything else."

Mrs. Emory's lawyer, E. Thomas Maxwell, said he is so convinced of her innocence that he requested she appear before a grand jury when it considers the indictments next week.

In a letter to the grand jury foreman dated Nov. 4, Mr. Maxwell states: "As you know, potential criminal defendants do not volunteer to appear before a grand jury . . . any statements made by Mrs. Emory could subsequently be used against her. Knowing this, Mrs. Emory still wishes to address your grand jury."

Although Mrs. Emory's husband, James Mitchell Emory Sr., also has been charged as a kingpin, she does not believe he was involved in smuggling.

Mr. Emory, who is being held without bond at the county Detention Center, could not be reached. His lawyer, Peter S. O'Neill, would not discuss the case in detail.

Police say Mr. Emory allegedly held "board of directors" meetings for an extensive drug ring with ties to several states and Mexico at the couple's home. And they say they have found marijuana stems and half-smoked marijuana joints in the Emorys' trash.

"That tells me that they were smoking marijuana in the house," Detective Chandler said. "With that type of odor, she has a college education, she had to have known."

Police also say they confiscated $12,000 from Mr. Emory's briefcase the day of the arrests. They have surveillance reports stating that known drug dealers frequently visited the house and the arrest of Mrs. Emory's brother in January for drug distribution.

Mrs. Emory said she knew of her brother's arrest but wouldn't comment on it. Mr. Maxwell said there was no connection between the two arrests, and her brother's case is still open.

And the house on the 1-acre lot that police insist should have been the giveaway is not what it seems, she insisted.

It was built with a $200,000 construction loan from Reisterstown Federal, she said. The couple pays $1,980 a month, court and county records show.

Mr. Emory, who has worked in construction for the past 10 years, did most of the work with the help of friends who are subcontractors, she said.

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