Jerome S. Cardin, philanthropist, 69

December 18, 1993|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,Staff Writer

Jerome S. Cardin, whose 1986 conviction for stealing $385,000 from Old Court Savings & Loan followed decades of community service and philanthropy, died Thursday in North Miami Beach, Fla.

Mr. Cardin was 69. He died of complications related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said a son, Sanford R. Cardin.

Though he maintained a home in Baltimore County, Mr. Cardin had lived primarily in Florida during recent years.

Services were held yesterday with burial at Arlington Cemetery of the Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Baltimore.

Along with Jeffrey A. Levitt, the president of Old Court Savings & Loan Association, Mr. Cardin became one of the most recognizable figures in the near-collapse of Maryland's thrift industry during the mid-1980s.

State officials said that Mr. Cardin's reputation shielded Mr. Levitt's activities. Mr. Cardin had served in 1979 on a task force formed to overhaul the state savings and loan industry -- part of the reason that some regarded him as an industry statesman.

But, prosecutors said later that he was "an active participant in the repeated criminality which has caused untold suffering to thousands of depositors."

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison but served just over a year before he was paroled in 1989 for reasons of ill health.

Mr. Cardin agreed to pay $10.6 million to settle his part of a civil suit brought by the state to help offset its costs.

Mr. Cardin appealed his conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court, which allowed it to stand.

Sanford Cardin said his father maintained to the end of his life that he was innocent.

"He insisted he was not guilty of any wrongdoing. That was the way he felt. He lived his life in a particular fashion, always trying to help people. It was obviously difficult for him. He was disappointed that this might be something people will remember more than all the wonderful things he did," he said.

"It was not just my father but our entire family that continued to believe strongly in his integrity," the son said.

A political associate, Del. Richard Rynd of Baltimore County, said that Mr. Cardin was a man of great energy who was always available for charitable enterprises. He was also a man who loved politics.

"He was a wheeler and dealer. He like to be where the action was. Many of us are in politics for that reason. And he liked the reputation of power it provides you," Mr. Rynd said.

That his reputation would be stained, Mr. Rynd said, was "devastating" for Mr. Cardin.

"He wanted to be known as a person who cared, who loved his community. If he did something wrong, we all have to forgive him because of all the good he did."

A 1948 graduate of the University of Maryland Law School, Mr. Cardin was president of Nu Beta Epsilon, a national law fraternity, from 1952 to 1953.

Even as he was beginning his law practice, he got started in the housing construction business.

After moving to Pikesville from Baltimore in 1957, he founded the Citizens Democratic Club of Baltimore County. "One of the things that led him to do that was so Jews moving out to the county could have a voice in politics the way they did in the city," his son said.

He served as a trial magistrate in Pikesville from 1959 to 1961. His other governmental appointments included service on the Maryland Advisory Council on Hospital Construction.

He served on the president's council at the College of Notre Dame. In 1984, he provided a $300,000 humanities endowment for Loyola College. Internationally known speakers are brought to the school each year for the Cardin Lectures.

He was actively involved with the Jewish National Fund and he served as campaign chairman for the Associated Jewish Charities in 1976-1977.

Mr. Cardin became the founder and chairman in 1971 of the Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation in Maryland after one of his childhood friends was stricken with the condition. He was also TC founder of the Basic Cancer Research Foundation in Baltimore.

He is survived by his wife, Shoshana S. Cardin; his sons, Sanford R. Cardin of Baltimore and Steven H. Cardin of Denver; two daughters, Ilene C. Vogelstein of Baltimore and Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin of New Milford, N.J.; his father, Jacob L. Cardin of Baltimore; and 10 grandchildren.

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