McLean prosecution to continue

April 15, 1994|By JoAnna Daemmrich, Michael James and David Michael Ettlin | JoAnna Daemmrich, Michael James and David Michael Ettlin,Sun Staff Writers Staff writer Richard Irwin contributed to this story.

Maryland's special prosecutor said today that he intends to proceed with theft and misconduct charges against Baltimore Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean, who apparently attempted suicide with an overdose of prescription pills last night after a fight with her husband.

Mrs. McLean left a two-page handwritten note for her husband that wavered between apologizing for causing him trouble and blaming him for failing to be supportive enough, police said. She was taken to Union Memorial Hospital by ambulance shortly before 10 p.m. from their luxury condominium at the Colonnade on Canterbury Road in North Baltimore.

The comptroller's condition was upgraded to guarded today, and she was in the intensive care unit, a hospital spokeswoman said.

"No, I have not been in contact with her lawyers," said state prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli. "As far as we're concerned this doesn't change the case, and we're preparing for a June 8 trial date."

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke was out of town today and could not be reached. His office said the mayor is "aware of the situation" but would have no comment.

Police officers found the 50-year-old comptroller "semiconscious" in the den of her 10th-floor, three-level condominium.

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 vials of an anti-depressant drug on a kitchen table, beside an empty glass and a bottle of Scotch, police said.

Mrs. McLean -- who holds the city's third-highest elective office and once was regarded as a potential candidate for mayor -- is scheduled to be tried 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."

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

The man, identified by police as Dale McKenna, reported to Greenspring Medical Services, 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 semiconscious, according to an officer at the scene.

Her note, addressed to Mr. McLean, did not mention anything about the indictment, police said.

"It was full of apologies," according to the police, but it also accused her husband of yelling at her, calling her names and trying to control her.

Mrs. McLean apparently checked into Sheppard Pratt as Judy Wright 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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