Manglitz rips conviction, not drug past He appears to revel in drug exploits, but says that's behind him

Awaits Sept. 6 sentencing

Developer denies he used ring's money for subdivision lots

July 03, 1996|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

Over lunch of cold lobster at his $300,000 Glenwood home, Philip Manglitz looks distracted. His eyes are dull. His hair is rumpled. He's sweating.

Last week, the 48-year-old developer was convicted in U.S. District Court in Baltimore of turning bundles of illicit cash from Howard County's biggest drug ring into subdivision lots in upscale western Howard.

Cocky, gregarious and besuited throughout the trial, Manglitz now walks barefoot around his airy house in shorts and a golf shirt -- awaiting his Sept. 6 sentencing to at least 10 years and possibly life in prison.

He plans to appeal the conviction. But even as he protests that he is an innocent man who has been wronged, he appears to revel in his past drug exploits.

In the last 20 years, Manglitz has been both a felon and a government witness -- convicted of bringing about 50 pounds of marijuana across the U.S.-Mexico border in 1972 and later testifying against drug trafficker Robert Cotichelli. He was sentenced to three years in federal prison on tax charges in 1983.

L It is a past, he says, he'd put behind him until this trial.

Sitting on his house's deck -- designed by the drug-dealing contractor for whom he was convicted of laundering money -- Manglitz insists he's an innocent man. He fears for the fate of his children, ages 7 and 9, who he says could end up in foster homes. "President Clinton has seen pot more recently than I have," he says.

But Manglitz, despite warnings from his attorneys, seems unable to stop himself from launching into tales about the days when he admits to trafficking in drugs.

Riding in the elevator in Baltimore's federal courthouse at the onset of his recent trial, Manglitz makes conversation with a stranger about the Texas border city of McAllen. "Great drug town," he offers. The elevator doors open and he walks toward the courtroom where jurors are being chosen for his trial.

In the courthouse cafeteria, he talks with bright, flashing eyes about traffickers taking U.S. Customs agents to lunch in Mexico and turning them into unwitting accomplices as they returned to America in cars stuffed with drugs.

"Spectacular," he declares.

And even as he protests once more his innocence in the recent case, he brags: "I've had a great, exciting life. I've lived five of your lives."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Kay, who prosecuted Manglitz in the money-laundering case, calls Manglitz a manipulator.

Kay recalls testimony about how Manglitz met with the leader of the western Howard drug ring, Randolph Ayersman, and Dana Kleberg, a Montgomery County man who testified he was a distributor for Ayersman. Manglitz warned the men that banks were scrutinizing cash transactions, large and small.

Manglitz "was not just in it for the ride or the free money. Here was a guy that took control," Kay says.

Undercover tapes of Manglitz talking with Ayersman and Kleberg as the drug ring unraveled may have helped to convict him.

In a transcript of one tape, Manglitz tells Kleberg that he would help Kleberg and Ayersman if they didn't cooperate with the authorities: "If you guys come through stand-up guys, right, and you don't roll over, I'm going to bend over backward to help you do whatever you wanna do, help you do whatever it takes, OK?"

Manglitz says now that his days in the underworld have been over since he married a 19-year-old woman in the early 1980s, when he was 33. He's had custody of their children since their divorce -- she is a chronic cocaine abuser, court records show.

"My lifestyle is my kids," he says.

His house in the upscale Glenwood Springs subdivision -- which he developed -- is a veritable playpen for his children Angela, 7, and Scott, 9. A painting easel sits by the fireplace. A play model of a roller coaster sits next to a window near a basket of candy.

Outside, there is a play area, pool and tennis court, where Manglitz says he and the children in-line skate.

Jim Leard, a friend of Manglitz's for five years, says Manglitz's world revolves around his kids, not drugs. If the testimony about his involvement were true, Leard says, "I would have seen something. We're pretty close. I'm not ashamed to admit that."

Leard says he and Manglitz shared similar childhoods. Manglitz is one of eight children born to a middle-class family in Adelphi. His father was a manager for the telephone company.

After flunking out of college in his freshman year, Manglitz says he sorted mail for the U.S. Postal Service and then went to work for the phone company.

He also got involved in the drug trade. In 1976, he was one of two principal government witnesses in the case against Cotichelli and five others in a ring that brought marijuana from Texas to Maryland.

Manglitz, then 28, testified that he was one of the main Maryland distributors for the ring and received shipments of marijuana from 300 to 2,000 pounds. Manglitz received immunity for his testimony, which sent all of the people on trial to jail, according to news accounts and court testimony.

Baltimore attorney Michael E. Marr, who represented Cotichelli, said, "I guess Mr. Manglitz took the benefit he received and used it as license for him" to continue illicit activities.

In 1987, Manglitz's company, Carman Associates, began selling Glenwood Springs and Country Springs lots to Ayersman, Kleberg and others -- who sometimes paid with bundles of cash wrapped in grocery bags, according to testimony.

Court records show Manglitz doctored his books and recorded far lower prices than were paid.

Now in addition to his jail time, Manglitz must forfeit $255,000. His business no longer has a listed phone number.

Pub Date: 7/03/96

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