State lobbyist charged with drug possession

April 08, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

A powerful state lobbyist was arrested yesterday after Annapolis police officers raided his hotel room and seized 10.4 grams of marijuana.

Ira C. Cooke, one of the top five money-making lobbyists in Maryland, turned himself in at the Annapolis police station at 10:30 a.m.

Mr. Cooke, a high-profile, 46-year-old Baltimore lawyer, was charged with possessing drugs and drug paraphernalia and possession with intent to distribute, police said. He was released on his own recognizance.

Detectives raided his suite on the sixth floor of Loews Annapolis Hotel Tuesday afternoon after receiving a tip that there was drug activity there.

While police searched his room, Mr. Cooke was seen in a State House hallway lobbying legislators. He was back in the halls yesterday afternoon.

"We received information that there was suspicious activity," said Lt. Gary Simpson, an Annapolis police spokesman. "Let's put it like this, there was enough information for us to be concerned about it."

The investigation took less than a week, said Detective Sgt. John Groh, who supervised it. Armed with a search warrant, police raided the suite shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday and found marijuana and a pipe.

Mr. Cooke has 24 blue-chip clients this year, including the American Physical Therapy Association, PIE Mutual Insurance Co., the Building Owners and Managers Association of Metropolitan Baltimore and the Maryland Optometric Association.

During the six-month reporting period from Nov. 1, 1991, to April 30, 1992, he was paid $358,096.

Recently, Mr. Cooke represented Odell's, a controversial Baltimore nightclub that tried to stay open even after the city filed a nuisance suit.

Mr. Cooke lives in Mount Washington and stays at Loews Annapolis Hotel during the three-month legislative session.

"We had no prior knowledge of the incident," said Tom Negri, manager of the hotel on West Street, a couple of blocks from the State House.

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