Julius Salsbury, a major gambling figure on The Block, jumped bail and apparently fled the state yesterday only hours before a federal judge struck down his appeal and ordered him to start a 15-year prison term.
FBI agents rushed to Salsbury's apartment in the Horizon House immediately after the Fourth Circuit Court opinion was handed down. The apartment was "cleaned out, without even a pair of socks left," according to one report.
Salsbury has been on the government's organized crimes list for nine years and his activities have supposedly been closely monitored. Agents knew that he won a $5,000 Cadillac in a churhc raffle only a few weeks ago.
Government prosecutors have long pleaded with the Federal Court to revoke Salsbury's $80-$1,000 and send him to prison while he appealed his conviction on gambling charges.
Salsbury was known to have substantial assets in Swiss banks and had disposed of his interest in the Oasis Nite Club, where he ran a $1 million gambling operation from the back room.
Three years ago, federal judges were told, Salsbury tried to sell a $100,000 Treasury bond through Swiss banks. The bond was discovered stolen from a brokerage house.
The judges allowed Salsbury to post bond, $45,000 on the gambling charges and $35,000 on tax charges, through Robert London, a professional bondsman who is on trial on lottery charges in state courts.
Court orders restricted Salsbury, however, to walks around his house in the 2900 block Strathmore Road, his downtown apartment or trips to the zoo with his grandchildren.
The court seized his still valid passport and Paul R. Schlitz, the court clerk, spent a few unhappy hours for it yesterday searching for it before it was discovered in the safe.
Federal officials, however, did not rule out the possibility that Salsbury obtained another passport and has flown to Switzerland or Israel.
Salsbury's disappearance came only a few hours before Circuit Judge John D. Butzner Jr., of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, threw out his appeal and ordered him arrested.
Judge Butzner pointed out that Salsbury was "the center of a far-flung operation" through his gambling activities. Salsbury's wealth and arrogance on The Block earned him the name of The Lord.
According to Judge Butzner, Salsbury's "resources are so large" that there was nothing to prevent him from fleeing except an order to start serving his term pending further legal moves.
The coincidence of Salsbury's disappearance and the final arrival of the long-awaited appeals court opinion gave rise to speculation that Salsbury was tipped off through underworld Mafia sources that his time was up.
Judge Butzner and Judge Frank A. Kaufman both signed warrants for Salsbury's immediate arrest, setting no bail. Mr. London was ordered to produce him in federal court on Monday.
Paul R. Kramer, deputy United States attorney, and J. Frederick Motz, an assistant, said that Salsbury's absence Monday would mean steps would be taken to seize at least $45,000 of the bail.
Salsbury is due to appear in Federal Court August 24 for an arraignment on tax charges. His non appearance there could cause the forfeiture of the additional $35,00 in bail.
Mr. Kramer said the government based its position that Salsbury's bail should have been canceled long ago on reports received from the FBI and tax agents.
Tax agents have filed over $500,000 in leins against Salsbury and have been trying to seize his assets to collect money allegedly due to the government.
They seized and sold his yacht, bonds and house years ago, renting the house back to him as allowed under regulations.
After his federal gambling conviction, the Baltimore liquor board ordered his license revoked. Although the night club was sold, one of the women who bought it used the name Mrs. Salsbury to sign for apartment drapes, sources said.
Salsbury was convicted by a federal jury in October on charges of sending checks across state lines to collect gambling debts. He took bets on baseball games, races and all sporting events handicapped by syndicate experts in Miami.
Salsbury's major customers and lieutenants met him Sunday nights in the back room of The Oasis to "settle the book" for another week's betting.
Salsbury took out-of-state checks to a drug store and had them marked with a "CL" symbol. The druggist cashed them through his own bank account and Salsbury picked up the cash later, the FBI disclosed at the trial.
Although the outline of the operation was broken by John Bonner, an FBI agent, prosecutors moved in when a heavy loser to Salsbury went to them with reports that threats had been made to get him by strong-arm hoodlums.
Salsbury's bail status had been called into questions many times while post-trial problems and appeals were ironed out. Although restricted, he visited Las Vegas and other places.
Salsbury made many court appearances but rarely spoke. Once he pleaded that he was financially insolvent and asked the court to release some of his money so he could defend himself in court.
Arnold M. Weiner, Salsbury's lawyer, discovered the government had illegally bugged the back office of The Oasis for a period of three years and tapped hundreds of phone conversations.
Mr. Weiner was never able to show that the planting of the illegal microphone was connected with the evidence gathered in the gambling case and failed to upset the conviction.