Witness intimidation charges dropped against convicted drug money launderer Federal judge critical of Manglitz prosecutors

April 02, 1997|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

Without offering any public explanation, federal prosecutors have dismissed witness intimidation charges against convicted drug money launderer and Glenwood developer Philip Manglitz.

Court records on file in U.S. District Court in Baltimore show prosecutors decided not to go forward with the case about two weeks ago. The records gave no indication of the reason.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Kay -- the lead prosecutor who was criticized by the federal judge hearing Manglitz's drug case -- declined comment.

The witness intimidation case was brought against Manglitz in July, two weeks after he was convicted of laundering money for a western Howard County drug ring that imported 3 tons of marijuana to Maryland over a decade.

Joseph Murtha, Manglitz's attorney, said the government simply did not have enough evidence to convict Manglitz of intimidating a witness. The Adelphi native, 50, was wrongly accused, Murtha said.

"The government did the right thing. Unfortunately, seven months after the fact," Murtha said. "We were ready to go ahead [with the case] at any time."

Murtha said he did not plan to take any civil actions against the government.

At the time the charges were brought, Manglitz was free on bond and awaiting sentencing in the drug case. Prosecutors sought to revoke his bond after they said they received information from "a concerned citizen" that Manglitz had plans to flee the country.

Manglitz then, according to prosecutors, sent the woman he believed was giving information to authorities a threat -- an unsigned envelope containing only three pages of the trial transcript where her name was mentioned.

Prosecutors were criticized for bringing the charges in the first place, not only by defense attorneys but also by U.S. District Judge Herbert N. Maletz who suggested at Manglitz's September sentencing that prosecutors may have brought the charges simply to have Manglitz jailed. Maletz had allowed Manglitz to remain free on electronic monitoring until his September sentencing date.

At the sentencing, Maletz said the actions of Kay, the lead prosecutor in the case, showed "an ethical problem."

Maletz then met with U.S. Attorney Lynne A. Battaglia to discuss Kay's handling of the case, and sources close to the case say Battaglia acknowledged that Kay had been careless.

Battaglia strongly disputed that characterization of her statements in an interview yesterday. But she said she could not comment on what happened at the meeting because Manglitz's appeal is still pending.

The case against Manglitz ended a decade-long drug ring that operated in western Howard County. Manglitz was convicted of selling lots in the Glenwood and Woodbine areas to drug dealers -- turning their illicit profits into clean assets.

Nearly all the Maryland members of the ring, which stretched into Mexico, testified against Manglitz at the trial.

Pub Date: 4/02/97

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