Convicted con woman is accused in plot to kill

Prosecutors say plan targeted probation officer

August 27, 2002|By Josh Mitchell | Josh Mitchell,SUN STAFF

Government documents accuse noted Maryland con woman Deborah Kolodner, the subject of a federal investigation into alleged real estate fraud, of asking a man to kill her probation officer in 1999.

Kolodner is jailed awaiting a hearing to determine whether she will be returned to prison for violating the terms of a 1998 mail fraud conviction. In the latest allegations against her, prosecutors say that Kolodner asked an unidentified man to kill Renata Ramsburg, a federal probation agent who had tracked and chronicled Kolodner's recent suspected activities.

"The defendant gave the witness Ms. Ramsburg's home address and asked him twice to shoot Ms. Ramsburg," prosecutors wrote in a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. The document was filed in response to a request by Kolodner to be allowed to serve jail time in a halfway house.

"Ms. Ramsburg is aware of [the alleged plot] and has expressed discomfort at the idea that the defendant now could be released to a halfway house," Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia B. Evans wrote in court papers.

Kolodner, 47, is alleged to have enticed numerous well-to-do men into acting as pawns in an elaborate mortgage-flipping scheme that prosecutors say netted more than $400,000 in cash. She is alleged to have built up a hoard of riches, including a Rolls-Royce, a Bentley, a Jaguar and two Mercedes-Benz automobiles, and an Eastern Shore waterfront house.

Although federal authorities have spelled out their suspicions in court papers and say that they believe Kolodner committed the alleged crimes, they have not charged her in the flipping case or the murder-for-hire allegation. They did, however, order her to be jailed on probation violations stemming from her 1998 conviction for running a bogus downtown physical therapy clinic.

Prosecutors did not identify the man Kolodner is accused of asking to kill Ramsburg. Kolodner's attorney, Gerald C. Ruter, denied that his client set out to kill anybody.

"It's ridiculous," Ruter said. "She doesn't have a violent bone in her body."

Kolodner is expected to return to the city Women's Detention Center soon after completing a medical evaluation in Texas.

At the hearing, for which no date has been set, Ruter said he would ask the judge to release Kolodner to a halfway house or to home detention.

"I need to have her in a position where I can view with her [case] documents and discuss them in detail," Ruter said. "I cannot do that when she and I are talking through Plexiglas."

In arguing against her release, prosecutors said that no halfway house in Baltimore would accept Kolodner because of the allegations that she committed fraud while living at another halfway house, Volunteers of America, in 1999.

"No halfway house should be required to bear the potential liability for the defendant's actions while on release," prosecutors wrote. "The defendant has demonstrated she cannot be controlled in a supervised release situation."

Kolodner has been portrayed by federal agents and prosecutors as a one-woman criminal enterprise who has used her looks and charm to lure several men - dubbed "paramours" in federal documents - into the flipping scheme.

Ruter said that releasing Kolodner to a halfway house would pose no risk.

"There is no question in my mind whatsoever that she would pose any threat of attempting to do anything which may be remotely a violation of any condition of a supervised release," Ruter said. "I do not think there would be any risk. She's certainly no risk to flee."

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