Defense raises questions about missing drug money Manglitz jury expected to start deliberations

June 19, 1996|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

Prosecutors allege hundreds of thousands of dollars of drug money landed in Glenwood developer Philip Manglitz's hands. But as his trial drew to a close yesterday, a question his defense posed to jurors was: "Where did it all go?"

After nine days of testimony -- but no defense witnesses -- the jury of eight men and four women is expected to begin deliberating Manglitz's fate today.

His is the last Maryland case involving a drug ring that operated out of western Howard County for a decade. Manglitz faces a sentence of up to life in prison and a $4 million fine if convicted on charges of money laundering and drug conspiracy and distribution.

Yesterday, Manglitz's attorney Clarke Ahlers asserted that the government produced little evidence to show that Manglitz accepted cash from drug kingpin Randolph Ayersman and his principal distributor, Dana Kleberg.

In addition, Ahlers argued, the main witnesses received "sweetheart deals" in exchange for their testimony against Manglitz.

But prosecutors said Manglitz -- who has a previous drug conviction -- taught the Ayersman clan how to succeed in the illegal trade.

"He showed them that the marijuana business could be successful," Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Kay said.

Prosecutors allege that Manglitz sold subdivision lots in western Howard County to Ayersman and Kleberg and accepted drug money -- often wrapped in paper grocery bags -- as payment.

The indictment alleges that Manglitz sold the lots at market value but doctored his books to reflect drastically lower selling prices in an effort to avoid paying taxes on the land sales and hide the amount of cash he allegedly received.

Defense attorneys questioned where the money ended up and how Manglitz would have benefited in the alleged deals. "Why was all the cash in this case found at the houses of the witnesses?" Ahlers said.

Over the seven years that Manglitz allegedly was accepting more than $660,000, his spending habits did not change, Ahlers said. And government investigators found no cash when they searched his house.

Federal prosecutors said Manglitz -- fearful after the December 1994 arrests of members of the Ayersman ring -- hid most of the money before his August 1995 indictment. They say he also lent some $25,000 in cash -- wrapped in a paper grocery bag -- to a friend.

"It's gone, ladies and gentlemen. That's why we don't have it. It's gone," Kay said.

To Ahlers' question about the benefits for Manglitz in the alleged scheme, Kay said Manglitz received tax-free income. He also did it as a favor, he said.

"He did it to help them out in their drug business," Kay said.

Manglitz is no stranger to the drug trade. He has two convictions in the 1970s and 1980s for drug importation and tax evasion. Court records state that he has also participated as a government informant, giving information on a large-scale drug ring.

Kay told the jurors that Ayersman and Kleberg -- who testified as part of plea agreements -- told Manglitz about the drug operations and where the money came from. In 1991, Manglitz called a meeting to warn Ayersman and Kleberg about banks looking out for big cash movements.

And at one point, Manglitz allowed Ayersman to store a truckload of drugs outside his Glenwood Springs home, Kay said.

But Ahlers challenged the credibility of the principal witnesses, calling their plea agreements "obscene." Ayersman, Kleberg and Manglitz's former partner, Ron Carter, all testified for the government.

The drug ring's kingpin, Ayersman, could face up to 20 years, but he has not been sentenced. His plea agreement recommends leniency.

Carter pleaded guilty to tax evasion for not reporting more than $100,000 he received from land sales to Ayersman and Kleberg. He was sentenced to two years of probation and a $5,000 fine.

Kay said Carter never knew the money he received came from drug sales. Ayersman and Kleberg would talk about the business and smoke marijuana with Manglitz, but never with Carter, Kay said.

Kleberg, who distributed more than 5,000 pounds of marijuana, pleaded guilty to a state charge of one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana. His plea agreement says a year of jail time will be recommended.

Kay conceded that Kleberg got a good deal. "Sure he did. He was the first one in," he said.

Pub Date: 6/19/96

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