Council candidate Prestianni reports receiving threatening note

August 10, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Howard County police are looking for someone who used the company name of a prominent Washington developer to send a threatening note to a County Council candidate who bases his campaign on slowing growth and giving residents more say in county zoning issues.

Gary Prestianni, one of two Republicans seeking to unseat County Council Chairman C. Vernon Gray in the 2nd District, says he's not intimidated by the note, but is annoyed that the writer used the name of Washington businessman Kingdon Gould's company as a return address.

Mr. Gould wants to develop a quarry near Mr. Prestianni's Jessup neighborhood on what is known as the Chase property, a 600-acre wooded area between Interstate 95 and U.S. 1, north of Guilford Road. Mr. Prestianni and about 40 other residents approved the quarry development in June after 16 months of negotiations.

Mr. Prestianni says he's certain that Mr. Gould wasn't the author because "classy people wouldn't do anything like that. Some person obviously is trying to use him as a fall person in it, and I think that's despicable."

Mr. Prestianni received the note, printed on his own campaign literature, on Saturday and gave it to the Police Department's crime lab, which is working on finding latent fingerprints. The note told him to get out of the race. The message included detailed information that only a few people know, Mr. Prestianni said.

Although he has given police a short list of possible suspects, there's probably little the Police Department can do even if its crime lab finds latent prints, said Kevin Costello, police spokesman.

"When you have suspects who have never [been fingerprinted], you're at a dead-end," he said. "We really have nothing to go on. The letter didn't threaten Mr. Prestianni, at least physically."

Mr. Gould's son, Caleb Gould, said he was unaware the letter was sent. "Gary has done the appropriate thing by reporting it to the proper authorities," he said.

Mr. Prestianni was one of five people who filed a lawsuit in Howard Circuit Court to overturn the county's 1990 General Plan and 1992 and 1993 comprehensive rezoning plans on grounds that neither is subject to a voter referendum or a veto by the county executive. The lawsuit was resolved two months ago after Circuit Judge Cornelius F. Sybert Jr. ruled both plans were legal.

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