Latex glove scam nets prison term BALTIMORE COUNTY

September 03, 1993|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

Back in 1988, it seemed like a good investment: Purchase latex surgical gloves from the Orient at low cost and sell them to American doctors and hospitals, who needed the gloves as they sought to deal with the AIDS epidemic.

It looked good to Roger Weinberg, a Towson lawyer who sank $9,000 into the venture after being shown documentation that made it appear the gloves were available and that customers in America were under contract to buy them.

"There was a shortage of latex gloves" at the time, Mr. Weinberg said yesterday. "It seemed like a legitimate deal."

But it wasn't.

Yesterday, one of two partners in the scheme, Paul Gordon Henderson, 49, a now-disbarred lawyer, was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay $944,447.77 in restitution to his 22 victims, including Mr. Weinberg.

"I think it's light," Mr. Weinberg said of Henderson's sentence. "He'll be back out on the street" in a couple of years.

Mr. Weinberg said he has no hope of seeing his money again, despite the restitution order by Baltimore County Circuit Judge Dana M. Levitz.

"I think the problem is, even though he's ordered to make restitution, as a practical matter, no one's going to see any of that money," Mr. Weinberg said. "If he paid $10,000 a year, it would take him 100 years to pay."

"He might not be able to pay it back, but we don't want to relieve him of his obligation to pay it back," said Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., who handled the case against Henderson personally. He called it one of the three major fraud cases of his tenure as attorney general.

"We're satisfied that the seven-year sentence is fair, under the circumstances," said Mr. Curran. Henderson and his partner, Lee Paul Der, 50, were indicted in April by the Baltimore County grand jury on charges of fraudulent misappropriation by fiduciary, securities fraud, sale of unregistered securities, conspiracy and felony theft.

Mr. Der vanished, and authorities suspect he is out of the country. Police still have a warrant for his arrest.

In July, Henderson pleaded guilty to one count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary and one count each of securities fraud, sale of unregistered securities and felony theft.

Mr. Curran said that Henderson and Mr. Der took the money from investors and deposited it directly into their personal accounts. Henderson bought a Jaguar automobile and spent thousands of dollars improving his home. He also bought expensive gifts for his wife and daughters.

"All of the money went to sustain a lifestyle he wanted and became used to," Mr. Curran said.

Henderson, who became an Infiniti car salesman after being disbarred, also spent some of the money to purchase synagogue seats for High Holidays, court records show.

"For the defendant to finance his day of atonement with stolen funds is to engage in a hypocrisy of unparalleled magnitude," attorneys for Mr. Curran's office wrote in their arguments.

Mr. Weinberg was less unfortunate than were many of his fellow investors, some of whom lost as much as $260,000. And he said he's learned a lesson.

"I guess the moral of the story is, if it looks too good, it's probably no good," he said.

The Securities Division of the attorney general's office can tell investors whether any security they're offered is in fact, legitimate. Those with questions can call 576-6362.

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