Ernest Neal Cory Jr., 81, longtime lawyer with stateErnest...

January 06, 1996

Ernest Neal Cory Jr., 81, longtime lawyer with state

Ernest Neal Cory Jr., a lawyer with state government for many years who was convicted -- and later cleared -- in the 1977 political corruption case involving former Gov. Marvin Mandel, died Wednesday of a stroke at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis. He was 81.

Mr. Cory of Corn Island in Anne Arundel County had a long history with state government, including working as an attorney dealing with regulatory agencies.

He was an assistant state attorney general four times and in 1966 helped organize an anti-racketeering unit within the state police.

He earned a law degree from the University of Maryland in 1947, beginning practice in Laurel, where he was a partner in the firm of Cory, Boss and Rice for many years.

In 1977, he was one of five Mandel associates convicted with the former governor on federal mail-fraud and racketeering charges in one of the biggest political scandals in Maryland history. Mr. Cory, who received an 18-month suspected sentence, was the only one of the six who didn't go to jail.

All the convictions were overturned on appeal in 1987, after the Supreme Court in a Kentucky case restricted the scope of the mail-fraud statute that had been used to indict the six.

The scandal involved passing legislation favoring the now-defunct Marlboro Race Course in Upper Marlboro, which Mandel associates secretly owned. Mr. Cory was accused of helping cover up the track's ownership in meetings with the Maryland Racing Commission.

Disbarred in 1980 because of the conviction, Mr. Cory was reinstated in 1984 by the Maryland Court of Appeals. In a written opinion, the court called him "the bottom of the batting order" in the scandal and "less culpable" than the other five defendants.

Mr. Cory told The Sun shortly after he was reinstated that he had a few legal cases, but to help support himself he sold firewood and taught sailing lessons. He also sold real estate. He said the other co-defendants may have blamed him for what had happened because he initiated the sale of the Marlboro racetrack that was central to the scandal.

Mr. Mandel, who learned of Mr. Cory's death yesterday from a reporter, said his former associate "didn't go around complaining" after the conviction. But "he was always upset by the total unfairness of it all."

"It was difficult for him to maintain himself [financially] during those trying times," said the former governor, who said he hadn't seen Mr. Cory in many years.

Mr. Cory was the son of a physician in College Park, where he attended public schools. He graduated from St. John's College in Annapolis in 1937. He was an officer in the Army during World War II, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel and fighting in the Pacific and European theaters. He won a Bronze Star.

He and Ann Lee Raborg married in 1940; she died in June.

Mr. Cory had belonged to the Annapolis and Gibson Island yacht clubs, the Maryland Club, and the Sons of the American Revolution.

A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. today at Christ Episcopal Church, Owensville Road in West River.

Survivors include three sons, John Cory of Darlington, Michael -- Cory of Jacksonville, Fla., and William Cory of Cape St. Claire; two daughters, Ann Lee Cory Lankford of Berryville, Va., and Elizabeth Cory of Harwood; a brother, William R. Cory of Louisville, Ky.; a sister, Jean Marie Cory Blackwell of Monterey, Calif.; 13 grandchildren and a great-grandson.

Alice Ridgely Merson, who worked for Hecht Co. for 12 years in the 1950s and early 1960s and at Fort Meade from 1966 until retiring in 1978, died Sunday of complications of Alzheimer's disease in Vienna, Va., her residence since 1989. She was 80.

The former Alice Ridgely Hammond graduated from Hannah More Academy in Reisterstown in 1932 and married Albert Page Merson in 1941, then moved near Catonsville. He died in 1964. Mrs. Merson move to Annapolis in 1981.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. today at St. Alban's Episcopal Church, First and A streets, Glen Burnie.

Survivors include a son, Richard Page Merson of King of Prussia, Pa.; two daughters, Barbara Burns of Arnold and Connie Dupras of Vienna, Va.; and four grandchildren.

Howard Lloyd Waltz, 77, B&O engineer 41 years

Howard Lloyd Waltz, a locomotive engineer for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad for 41 years, died of cancer Dec. 30 at his winter home in Florida City, Fla. He was 77.

He was born and raised in Frederick, where he attended public schools and married the former Mary E. Weddle in 1938. They moved to Hamilton in Baltimore in 1954 after the railroad transferred him.

As a 32nd-degree Mason, he was a member of Millington Lodge 166 AF&AM. He also was a past travel-master and member of the Maryland Travelers Club, an association of campers and motor home owners. He was a life member of the National Association of the 3rd Armored Division, the Army division he served with in Europe.

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