The lawyer as healer is an embarrassment


August 26, 1993|By MICHAEL OLESKER

Abraham Paul Korotki should go to heal himself.

Remember this Korotki? He's the attorney previously famous for ripping off injured firefighters and slapping a woman who dared to smoke in the smoking section of a restaurant. He told the woman she should be healed. He told the firefighters they were greedy. He said this when he took 75 percent of their money after the firefighters were burned in a chemical blaze.

Yesterday, a Baltimore County judge told Korotki he was an embarrassment to lawyers and other human beings. He left out a third party: Korotki's an embarrassment to himself.

Korotki said he was only kidding. Some joke: Last May, at Michael's Restaurant on York Road, Korotki approached three women and told them to stop smoking. They were sitting in the smoking section of Michael's, after waiting 45 minutes for a table there.

When the women told him to mind his own business, Korotki grabbed Debra Lowenstein by the back of her neck, hit her in her forehead while shouting, "Heal her, heal her," like some holy roller preacher, while his grown son sneaked up behind Lowenstein and tied her to her chair.

In Baltimore County Court yesterday, Donna May, a registered nurse who was eating with Lowenstein, testified, "You could see the pain in her face. Her head went back."

"It was humorous, wasn't it?" Korotki, acting as his own attorney, asked May. "The healing? The [tying up]? The whole thing was humorous, wasn't it? It was all done in a humorous atmosphere, wasn't it?"

Yuk. Yuk.

Korotki said he really hadn't cared about the smoking. Heck, some of his own dinner partners that night were smokers. Heck, he was just a single guy being friendly to some single gals. Heck, he'd even told them his best single-guy joke to break the ice. Didn't Lowenstein remember?

"No," she said.

"About virgin wool?" Korotki said. "Remember? How do you get virgin wool? From an ugly sheep? Don't you recall? We were amused. You were amused. I told you I was single."

It was embarrassing to hear. Then, the joke and the small talk having bombed, Korotki grabbed Lowenstein by the back of her neck and jabbed the heel of his hand into her forehead a couple of times.

He said this was his Ernest Angley imitation. Angley is a televangelist who jabs his hand into people's foreheads, driving them backward into the waiting arms of someone standing behind them.

Instead of feeling saved, Lowenstein, who'd had neck surgery and was recovering from a herniated disc, felt hurt and called a cop. Korotki, scrambling for conciliation, told a waiter to send a drink to her table before the cop got there. Lowenstein then went to Greater Baltimore Medical Center for five hours of treatment, and Korotki decided to brazen it out.

It's what he does. As a man, he's a throwback to the time of caves. As an attorney, he's trampled the already-thin line between high fees and gouging.

A few years ago, after he gouged five firefighters recovering from burns -- they were awarded $628,000 from a negligent chemical company, and Korotki tried to pocket $488,000 of it -- the firefighters sued him and got all their money back. Then the state's highest court suspended his license for 18 months.

But, yesterday, Baltimore County Judge Michael McCampbell got personal.

"I don't know what gives you the right to invade someone else's space, their privacy," the judge said. "It was presumptuous, intrusive, crass and offensive. . . . It is not to be tolerated."

"You're a highly educated professional," the judge went on. "This is not becoming to the rest of the members of the bar, or anyone else. You must have graduated from the Mike Tyson school of dating."

Tyson, the former heavyweight boxing champ, is in prison for raping a woman. Judge McCampbell said he wouldn't send Korotki to jail, but gave him a year's probation before judgment, a $250 fine and ordered 50 hours of community service.

"I take it you don't heal any more," Korotki was told.

"No," he said, "my days as a healer are definitely over."

Too bad. Before he retires altogether, he should try healing himself.

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