Montgomery County developer Ruthann Aron faces additional charges of attempted murder in allegedly trying to poison her husband after a grand jury returned a five-count indictment against her yesterday.
Aron, a former U.S. Senate candidate, has been jailed without bond since June 9 on police charges that she tried to hire a hit man to kill her husband, urologist Barry Aron, and a Baltimore lawyer, Arthur G. Kahn.
The grand jury indicted her yesterday on the two solicitation of murder complaints, as well as three charges related to the alleged poisoning attempt.
Prosecutors charge that on or about April 25, Aron, 54, tried to poison her husband by spiking his chili dinner with a concoction of crushed prescription drugs, including narcotics, tranquilizers, painkillers and an antihistamine.
Barry Aron told authorities that he saw his wife sprinkle a white powder into the chili, which he noted tasted very bitter. He said he fell asleep immediately after dinner and slept for 14 hours, awakening with a hangover.
Ruthann Aron's attorney, Barry Helfand, called the poisoning allegations "ridiculous" and said he "can't wait to hear all this theoretical evidence related to this chili incident."
"I am finally glad and relieved the time has come so I can defend this woman," Helfand said of the indictments. "They're going to have to give me the discovery at last, and I'll know what we're faced with."
He has not entered a plea on Aron's behalf.
Helfand has tried twice to have Aron released on bond and transferred to a private mental hospital for treatment, arguing that she suffers from depression. He said yesterday he will try again to have her released.
Montgomery County State's Attorney Robert Dean, who called a news conference to announce the indictments, said his office will continue to oppose Aron's release. The state has argued that Aron remains a danger to herself and her alleged victims.
"Certainly she has more to answer for as of today," Dean said in reference to the additional charges of attempted murder, attempted poisoning of a person and poisoning of food.
Knowingly and willfully poisoning food is an offense that carries a maximum 20-year penalty. Attempted poisoning of a person carries a 10-year penalty.
The solicitation of murder charges and the attempted murder charge carry maximum sentences of life imprisonment.
"I think it's sad," said Dean. "That was my overriding emotion as our investigation developed -- it's sad, it's serious."
Dean, the county's top prosecutor, became personally involved in the case from the outset. He met with William H. "Billy" Mossburg Jr., who brought Aron's request for a hit man to the attention of authorities. Dean said yesterday he expects to be called as a witness.
Mossburg, a former trash-hauler who has battled the county over his failed business, has said that Ruthann Aron asked him over drinks to help her find someone to kill two unnamed lawyers. Mossburg, 54, contacted the FBI, which referred him to the county state's attorney's office.
The prosecutor, in turn, referred the case to Montgomery County police, who arranged for an undercover officer to pose as the hit man.
Aron allegedly told the phony hit man that she wanted her husband and one lawyer killed. She said she wanted her husband's death to look like an accident, authorities allege, while Kahn's could appear to be a murder committed during a robbery.
Kahn testified against Aron in her unsuccessful defamation case against William E. Brock III, her opponent in the 1994 Republican Senate primary.
Meanwhile, the Montgomery County Council yesterday began consideration of a resolution to remove Aron from the planning commission. Council attorney Michael Faden said that Aron's removal is being sought because she has been unable to attend meetings. "After today's indictments, it's pretty clear she won't be available for the foreseeable future," Faden said.
Pub Date: 7/04/97