Mental exam ordered for convicted swindler

Woman facing charge of parole violation

May 03, 2002|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

Saying the government has "thrown everything but the kitchen sink at me," noted con woman Deborah Kolodner appeared in court yesterday to begin fighting the latest round of criminal accusations - including mortgage flipping and enticing well-to-do men to act as swindling accomplices.

But by the end of yesterday's hearing in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, in which Kolodner repeatedly objected to arguments made by her own attorney, a federal judge ordered her to undergo a mental evaluation.

Prosecutors will have to wait about 60 days for the evaluation to be completed before they can argue at a hearing that Kolodner should be returned to prison for allegedly violating her probation for a 1998 mail fraud conviction. That hearing, originally scheduled for Monday but now postponed, could send her to prison for three years.

The judge, Benson E. Legg, was torn about ordering the competency exam because he said Kolodner appeared to be "fully oriented and articulate" at yesterday's court hearing. Kolodner's lawyer, Michael S. Blumenthal, requested the evaluation after Kolodner clashed repeatedly with him throughout the hearing, arguing that he was not effectively making a case for her innocence.

"Your honor, this is my life. I want to prove to you that I am innocent," she said at one point, over Blumenthal's disapproval. "Everything but the kitchen sink has been thrown at me by the federal government."

Kolodner has been portrayed by federal agents and prosecutors as a one-woman, unstoppable criminal enterprise who has used her looks and charm to lure several men - including a lawyer, a former Internal Revenue Service employee and numerous businessmen - to act as pawns in a series of pending criminal allegations. Some of the men are described in court papers as Kolodner's "paramours."

Kolodner used the men in a mortgage-flipping and real-estate fraud business she began shortly after getting out of prison in July 1999, court papers stated.

Prosecutors say that, as in past schemes in which she was convicted, Kolodner quickly amassed a horde of riches - including jewels, expensive clothes, a Rolls-Royce, a Bentley, two Mercedes-Benzes, a Jaguar and a $765,000 Eastern Shore waterfront house.

Kolodner was convicted twice in the 1990s of elaborate fraud schemes, including an insurance fraud at a downtown Baltimore physical therapy clinic that raked in $3 million in phony claims.

Court papers say that she and others involved in her mortgage business also are under investigation for mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud. No charges have been filed.

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