Developer convicted in drug case Manglitz guilty on five counts of money-laundering

Jury to decide on forfeiture

Nearly all in ring aid prosecutors, testify against him

June 25, 1996|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

Glenwood developer Philip Manglitz was convicted yesterday on charges he laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars for a western Howard County drug ring and participated in the drug conspiracy.

A federal jury found Manglitz guilty of five counts of money laundering and one drug conspiracy charge. But they acquitted him on another drug charge and deadlocked on two money-laundering counts.

Nearly all of the principal players in the drug ring cut deals with the government and testified against Manglitz -- as well as providing information and testifying against other members of the ring -- in exchange for leniency in sentencing.

The normally gregarious Manglitz -- who could face up to life in prison -- shook his head quietly as the jury verdict was read after three days of deliberation. The jurors will return to U.S. District Court today to decide whether Manglitz should forfeit $645,000.

"I don't believe justice was served today," Manglitz, 48, said as he left the courtroom. He said he plans to appeal the convictions.

Federal prosecutors would not comment on the case, which represents the last Maryland chapter in an investigation federal drug agents dubbed "Operation Easy Money."

"I can't comment until the jury is back entirely," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Kay. Kay would not say whether he plans to prosecute again the two money-laundering counts that deadlocked the jury.

Manglitz was found guilty of laundering money for Dayton contractor Randolph Ayersman, who earlier pleaded guilty to running a wholesale drug ring out of western Howard County for more than a decade. In all, Ayersman -- with the aid of two brothers and others in the ring -- imported more than 3 tons of marijuana from 1984 to 1994.

To help Ayersman and Silver Spring resident Dana Kleberg -- Ayersman's principal distributor -- hide their illicit profits, Manglitz sold them building lots in upscale western Howard County subdivisions, according to testimony.

Manglitz, who has prior convictions for drug importation and tax evasion, accepted bundles of cash wrapped in paper grocery bags for the lots.

Having not cut a deal with prosecutors, Manglitz could face anywhere from 20 years to life in prison -- as much as four times the amount of jail time than all but one of the people who have been charged in the drug ring so far. A sentencing date has not been set.

Discussions break down

Manglitz -- who was indicted several months after Ayersman was arrested -- was involved in plea negotiations at one point, but discussions broke down over financial issues, court records show.

Instead, Manglitz opted to go to trial.

Ayersman decided to play it safe. After federal agents found 300 pounds of marijuana in his Kalmia Drive house in December of 1994, Ayersman began cooperating with authorities.

He wore a recording device and took part in an undercover sting operation to bring down other members of the ring from California to Maryland.

Ayersman testified in Manglitz's trial that at the time of his arrest he faced as much as 20 years to life. But in exchange for his aid, Ayersman will now likely serve just under five years in jail, according to his plea agreement. He also had to forfeit his Dayton house, his Woodbine farm, seven subdivision lots and more than $250,000 in cash

Manglitz's attorney Clarke Ahlers said the plea agreements mean the people most responsible for the operations of the drug ring do not receive commensurate punishment.

"Through the use of creative charging and cooperation agreements, the prosecutor's office is subverting the intentions of Congress," Ahlers said, referring to the sentencing guidelines which denote penalties based on the amount of a drug dealer's (( involvement.

"If you believe the government's theory [Manglitz] is not at the top of the pyramid at all," Ahlers said. "He's off on the schematic chart somewhere simply doing business with these guys."

Cooperation a good tool

But Kay, the prosecutor, said cooperation agreements are a necessary tool in cracking down on crime.

"How else are you going to catch someone if you don't have cooperators?" Kay questioned. "Cooperation is rewarded in the guidelines, and that's defined by Congress."

Legal experts say cooperation agreements -- though needed -- are inherently problematic, as they pit justice concerns against law enforcement objectives.

"Enforcement needs are so different from sentencing needs, and so they are at odds," said Dan Richman, a professor at Fordham Law School in New York, who has studied the subject. "Sentencing is about culpability. Enforcement is about buying information."

And Dana Kleberg had information to tell. Court records show Kleberg distributed more than two tons of marijuana for Ayersman. Just days after Ayersman's arrest, Kleberg approached federal authorities offering cooperation, according to his plea agreement.

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