Police rescue McLean after pill overdose

April 15, 1994|By Michael James and David Michael Ettlin | Michael James and David Michael Ettlin,Sun Staff Writers Sun staff writers Joanna Daemmrich and Richard Irwin contributed to this article.

Indicted Baltimore Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean apparently attempted suicide with an overdose of prescription pills last night, leaving a two-page handwritten note for her husband that apologized for causing him troubles, police said.

Mrs. McLean was taken to Union Memorial Hospital by ambulance shortly before 10 p.m. from their luxury condominium apartment at the Colonnade on Canterbury Road in North Baltimore, police said.

She was listed in critical but stable condition early today, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Police said the 50-year-old comptroller was "semi-conscious" in theden of her 10th-floor, three-level condo when several officers arrived.

They were investigating a call to Howard County's 911 emergency system, which had received a second-hand report that a woman in the 10th-floor Colonnade apartment had taken an overdose of pills, police said.

The officers found four empty pill vials on a kitchen table, beside an empty glass and a bottle of J&B Scotch, police said.

Mrs. McLean -- who holds the city's third-highest elective office and once was regarded as a potential candidate for mayor -- was scheduled for trial June 8 on charges of misconduct in office and felony theft, and has been on indefinite leave of absence from her job.

She and her husband's defunct travel business recently was sued by an airline ticket clearinghouse, which claims it is owed nearly $130,000.

The travel agency, Four Seas and Seven Winds, figured in a portion of the criminal charges against Mrs. McLean on four counts of misconduct and one count of theft, presented in indictments Feb. 25.

Mrs. McLean was alleged to have surreptitiously tried to arrange $1 million lease of the agency's former headquarters by the city, without disclosing the ownership interest she had with her husband, James H. McLean.

The grand jury accused her of authorizing $25,189 in payments to a fictitious consultant named Michele McCloud and setting up checking accounts at Harbor Bank for a phony organization. The checks were sent to a Park Heights Avenue hair salon run by Mrs. McLean's sister.

Mrs. McLean withdrew money from bank accounts under the name of the nonexistent Resources for Women to pay credit card bills for dinners, lingerie, flowers and parquet flooring, according to sources familiar with the transactions.

The comptroller has been silent about the allegations against her since slipping from view in late December after complaining that she was being hounded by the media. Her lawyers refused a reporter's request for an interview with Mrs. McLean in January, saying:

"After consultation with her doctor, we believe that Mrs. McLean's emotional condition is too fragile for her to conduct any interview or answer any question at this time."

One of the lawyers, M. Cristina Gutierrez, arrived at Union Memorial shortly before midnight last night. She refused comment on Mrs. McLean's apparent suicide attempt.

According to police, word of the apparent suicide attempt initially came from a Bel Air man who had recently befriended the comptroller at Sheppard Pratt Hospital, a private institution in Towson specializing in mental health.

The man reported to a Howard County counseling center that he had been speaking on the phone with a woman he knew by the name of Judy Wright, who told him she had taken pills and intended to kill herself. The address the man gave was for the McLean apartment, police said.

An employee of the Howard County health center called the local 911 center to report the information, and the county dispatcher in turn notified the Baltimore 911 center.

When officers arrived, they repeatedly knocked at the door of Mrs. McLean's apartment but got no answer, police said. They also had the front desk call the apartment, but no one answered, police said.

The officers got a pass key from the desk and were about to open the door to Mrs. McLean's home when her husband opened it, police said.

Mr. McLean -- who had been asleep and apparently didn't hear the officers knocking -- was surprised to see the officers and was unaware that anything was wrong, police said.

Officers found his wife in the den and called for an ambulance. As she was being transported, she was semi-conscious, according to an officer at the scene.

"She was moving, sighing, groaning. . . . It wasn't like she was really out of it," said the officer, who asked not to be named.

The two-page suicide note -- which was addressed to Mr. McLean -- did not mention anything about the grand jury indictment, police said.

"It was full of apologies," according to the police.

Mrs. McLean was reported to have checked into Sheppard Pratt the week before a grand jury indicted her on four counts of misconduct in office and one count of felony theft, according to sources close to the criminal investigation.

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