2nd woman arrested in attempt to kill lawyer

April 25, 1994|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Sun Staff Writer

In a twist to an already bizarre crime, a West Baltimore woman has been arrested as the accomplice who allegedly helped a respected Baltimore lawyer charged with attempting to murder her law firm partner.

The suspect, Tamme Lynn Newton, 35, was arrested at her home in the 1500 block of W. Fayette St. by Baltimore homicide detectives late Saturday. Police said Ms. Newton supplied heroin TC to the lawyer charged in the case, Susan Fila, 42.

Ms. Newton was charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder, said Detective Sgt. Gary Childs and Detective Sgt. Steve Lehmann, the homicide investigators on the case. The suspect, who police said was unemployed and had no previous felony arrest, is being held without bail at the Women's Detention Center.

Police alleged that Ms. Newton conspired with Ms. Fila, a medical malpractice specialist who graduated magna cum laude from law school, to kill 46-year-old Charles Lamasa. He and Ms. Fila formed the downtown law firm of Lamasa & Fila, located at 1023 Cathedral St., about 18 months ago.

According to the two detectives, Ms. Newton gave a taped statement to police after being arrested Saturday. She told police that she had known Ms. Fila for about 12 years and that during the last nine to 10 months had been the lawyer's connection for purchasing heroin.

"Heroin destroys a lot of lives, and it's destroyed this one," said Detective Childs.

Ms. Newton told police that on April 14 -- the day of the murder attempt -- Ms. Fila met with her in West Baltimore and gave her several hundred dollars to purchase a gun.

Instead of doing so, she told police, she gambled it away in a crack cocaine game. When Ms. Newton informed Ms. Fila that she was unable to purchase a gun, the lawyer asked if she would help her attack Mr. Lamasa, Sergeant Childs said. The two then decided to use a knife, he said.

Investigators alleged that Ms. Fila had decided to kill Mr. Lamasa because he was going to start an audit of the law firm's records for tax reasons and, in the course of doing so, would discover that Ms. Fila had been embezzling money from the firm.

Police said Ms. Fila had embezzled at least $10,000 -- and possibly as much as $50,000 -- from the firm to buy heroin.

Ms. Fila, an Ellicott City resident who lists among her achievements graduating magna cum laude from the University of Baltimore Law School in 1988, checked into the Oakview Treatment Center in Ellicott City two days after the attack. She was being treated for heroin addiction, court records say.

Detective Childs said Ms. Fila left the center five days later and that investigators had determined that it was likely she had gone to West Baltimore.

Ms. Fila was found by the two detectives standing in the doorway of a West Baltimore house and was arrested Thursday night, he said.

The lawyer has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder and theft over $300, according to court records. She also was being held without bail at the Women's Detention Center.

Mr. Lamasa was stabbed five times by an assailant he described as a weak and frail person after he got into a car with Ms. Fila in front of their law firm on the evening of April 14. The assailant, reported earlier to have been a man, was hiding in the back seat of the car Ms. Fila was driving, police said.

Despite wounds to his head, back, neck and chest, Mr. Lamasa was able to wrest the knife from the attacker, then get into the back seat and hold the assailant down by sitting on top of her.

Police are awaiting a toxicology report to determine if Mr. Lamasa had been drugged before the attack. He has told police that he was feeling very groggy late that day.

Ms. Fila drove the bleeding man around the city for 40 minutes before finally taking him to a hospital, police said. After dropping the wounded man off at Sinai Hospital in Northwest Baltimore, Ms. Fila and the assailant drove off together, police said.

The news of the lawyer's alleged involvement in the attack on her partner astounded attorneys who have worked with her.

Mr. Lamasa could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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