McLean lawyers seek delay of court date

May 05, 1994|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Sun Staff Writer

Lawyers for indicted Baltimore Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean are requesting a second postponement of her court date after failing to negotiate an arrangement with the state prosecutor in which she would be spared jail time.

Mrs. McLean, who faces charges of theft and misconduct in office, attempted suicide April 14 by swallowing prescription pills with alcohol. She continues to be despondent and under psychiatric care at the Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Towson, her lawyers said.

Mrs. McLean was expected to appear in court next Tuesday to enter a guilty plea at her rearraignment, a second hearing that was set up after she failed to show up in March because of her hospitalization for depression.

Attorney M. Cristina Gutierrez said last night she was requesting an indefinite postponement because the comptroller's fragile state would prevent her from appearing in court.

"Her condition has not improved," Ms. Gutierrez said, adding that the city employee health benefits for Mrs. McLean have run out and she is on a 14-day extension.

However, State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli said today that Mrs. McLean has three weeks to show up in court before the case goes to trial June 8.

Negotiations with Ms. Gutierrez on a plea arrangement have come to a halt, he said, and the only purpose of another arraignment is for the comptroller to answer the charges.

Mrs. McLean did not attend her original arraignment in late March because she was in the psychiatric hospital. Her lawyers obtained a postponement of her rearraignmentto May 10.

"We are ready for trial," Mr. Montanarelli said. "If her client wants to come in and plead guilty before then, she can. The purpose of the rearraignment was to allow her client to come in court and answer the charges personally. It appears she either cannot or will not do that."

. The main sticking point in the plea-bargain talks was that Mrs. McLean's lawyers wanted no jail sentence. Mr. Montanerelli has been holding out for a sentence of at least 30 to 90 days, according to sources close to the negotiations.

A grand jury accused Mrs. McLean of stealing more than $25,000 by setting up contracts with a fictitious employee and nonexistent women's organization. She is also charged with trying to arrange the lucrative city lease of the former headquarters of Four Seas & Seven Winds Inc., the defunct travel agency she ran with her husband.

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