Schaefer defends pardon of Green

October 06, 1994|By Sheridan Lyons and Frank Langfitt | Sheridan Lyons and Frank Langfitt,Sun Staff Writers

Gov. William Donald Schaefer said yesterday that he pardoned former Baltimore County State's Attorney Samuel A. Green Jr. so the disgraced prosecutor could clear his name and save his children further embarrassment.

But the pardon of Mr. Green, 20 years after his conviction on corruption charges, has stirred memories that some former associates said were too painful to discuss.

It also provided recollections of a sensational trial filled with lurid testimony about Mr. Green's sexual escapades.

The governor said he knew he would receive criticism for the pardon but offered the following response to his detractors: "Someday you may need something. And you may find some governor who has a little bit of a heart."

Mr. Green, now 63, served six months of a three-year sentence for conspiracy, misconduct in office, obstruction of justice, and inducing perjury in a scheme to cover up a $750 payment from a man who wanted an arrest record destroyed.

He was released in March 1976, still insisting that he was innocent -- as he did in his application for a pardon to the Maryland Parole Commission, dated October 1993 and received a month later.

He wrote: "I feel that a pardon would serve as a restoration of my rights in the local community and would also re-establish a personal credibility with my family and friends."

In explaining the pardon, Mr. Schaefer said the former prosecutor redeemed himself with good works in Florida, where he lives. When asked for specifics, the governor said he couldn't recall any.

According to Mr. Green's application, he was most recently employed as director of the South Georgia Chapter of the March of Dimes from 1990 until July 1993. The nonprofit organization was founded to defeat polio. It also fights birth defects and infant mortality.

In Georgia, state March of Dimes Director Deborah Dawson said she was Mr. Green's supervisor for about a year. "We knew him as 'Alex,' " she said of Mr. Green, whose middle name is Alexander. She said the group was aware that he had been convicted but did not know the specifics.

"He managed the staff, worked with the volunteers -- he did a good job," she said, but he was forced out when Georgia's north and south chapters merged. "Unfortunately . . . Alex's job basically was abolished."

According to Mr. Green's pardon application, he began working with the March of Dimes in Florida in 1986 after engaging in a variety of endeavors that included teaching, sportswriting and antique dealing.

Attempts by The Sun to locate Mr. Green have been unsuccessful. He moved to Florida in 1980, but at the address in the Gulfstream area north of Miami that he provided on his application, a woman who answered the phone said, "He doesn't live here. We broke up."

Green 'was elated'

A Towson lawyer who spoke on condition of anonymity said Mr. Green called him last Thursday evening, announcing that he'd received the pardon.

"He was elated," said the lawyer.

Suzanne Mensh, clerk of the Baltimore County Circuit Court, said Mr. Green stopped by her office briefly about a month ago, joking and "looking just like Gregory Peck."

The governor said he knew Mr. Green from his days as state's attorney but never spoke to him personally about the pardon or had anyone lobby him on the former prosecutor's behalf.

Mr. Schaefer also recently pardoned the late Jerome S. Cardin, who was convicted of stealing $385,000 from Old Court Savings and Loan. In that case, the governor cited the Cardin family's philanthropic work and the former banker's remorse.

After Mr. Green's release from prison, he was engaged in a variety of occupations, according to his application for pardon.

"During 1975-80," he wrote, "I obtained real estate agents license in Maryland, attended auctioneer's school in High Point, N.C. . . . went to Fort Worth, Texas, for a three-week course in oil business."

Arrest is explained

When the application asked him to explain "how and why you became involved in each arrest," Mr. Green wrote a lengthy account of the state's investigation, saying he had cooperated and insisting that he did not personally take money to erase an arrest record.

"While much of the court testimony was conflicting [I did not testify on advice of counsel], the jury apparently believed that I tried to protect this employee and also the state's attorney's office and returned a verdict of guilty in the case."

Mr. Green's trial also included tales of his sexual exploits, often involving members of his staff who testified before overflow crowds.

But Peter D. Ward, a Towson attorney and former Circuit Court judge who prosecuted Mr. Green for the attorney general's office, read Mr. Green's account and called it "total self-serving B.S."

"Twelve citizens of Baltimore County -- I hesitate to say peers of Mr. Green because that might be insulting to them -- found him guilty on multiple counts. Reading this, Green doesn't even begin to approach acknowledging that he did anything wrong," Mr. Ward said.

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