Columbia developer pleads guilty to defrauding partners of $135,000 Prosecutors to seek 5 years for Issel

June 10, 1993|By Ed Heard | Ed Heard,Staff Writer

A prominent Columbia developer has pleaded guilty t defrauding one of his partnerships of $135,000 to meet personal expenses that included monthly payments on his Mercedes-Benz.

Peter Issel, 52, of the first block of E. Lee St. in Baltimore, headed MGI Associates Ltd. when he transferred the funds to dTC his private account. Issel pleaded guilty Monday in Howard County Circuit Court to fraudulent conversion of partnership money.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend that he be sentenced to a five-year term at the Howard County Detention Center. His sentencing is set for Aug. 30.

Under the agreement, Issel would be placed on parole after 18 months and he would then begin repaying the stolen funds to MGI Associates, owner of the Mony Building in Columbia. The maximum penalty for fraudulent conversion of partnership funds 10 years' imprisonment and a $5,000 fine, according to court records.

Assistant Attorney General Christopher J. Ramano said the suggested sentencing was "what we think is appropriate."

Mr. Ramano also said the state will not prosecute Issel for "any criminal violations arising out of his handling of any other partnership funds or transactions" except those involving MGI Associates.

Lawsuits alleging Issel's misappropriation of funds at other partnerships arose in 1989 and 1990, but there were no criminal charges.

Issel headed at least 10 other partnerships in Maryland, many of them in the Baltimore-Columbia area, according to court records. They included Twin Knolls South Ltd. Partnerships, Little Patuxent Ltd. Partnership, Talbot Springs Ltd. Partnership, and 111 Water Street Ltd. Partnership.

Issel was previously convicted on federal charges of bank embezzlement in 1976. He served 60 days of a three-year prison sentence, Mr. Ramano said.

Issel could not be reached for comment. His attorney, E. George Bendos, did not return phone calls.

From Dec. 31, 1985, through Dec. 31, 1988, Issel "played loose and easy'" with MGI's funds, which he used to make credit card, car and mortgage payments, to buy property in Delaware and to cover debts for other partnerships to which he belonged, according to court records.

Mr. Ramano said the state began to investigate Issel in 1990 after receiving complaints of wrongdoing from one of his colleagues at another partnership. That same year, Issel filed for bankruptcy and resigned from his other partnerships.

A provision of the plea agreement said Issel cannot avoid repaying the $135,808 to MGI Associates through bankruptcy, Mr. Ramano said.

Richard Talkin, MGI's attorney, said his client had "no comment" on the plea bargain agreement made by Issel.

"It's not getting off the hook for him," said Mr. Ramano, referring to Issel's plea agreement with the state. "Leniency is in the eye of the beholder. And I'm sure Mr. Issel doesn't consider it lenient."

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