Vogel partnership files for bankruptcy to avert forced sale $4 million owed on land near Upper Marlboro


A limited partnership controlled by Prince George's County developer Mark R. Vogel filed for bankruptcy yesterday to avert the forced sale of an 800-acre tract of land near Upper Marlboro on which he owes $4.3 million.

The tract, part of a 1,200-acre complex known as the Villages of Belmont, was scheduled to be auctioned off yesterday morning. But attorneys for Leeland Road Associates Limited Partnership filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. District Court in Rockville to buy some time to make payments on the $4.3 million mortgage, said Paul Mark Sandler, Mr. Vogel's Baltimore attorney.

Mr. Vogel, owner of Maryland's two harness racing tracks and who faces trial next month on a cocaine possession charge, is the sole general partner of Leeland Road Associates. He bought the land in 1987 from the Storch family, which held a $4.3 million mortgage on it. First Federal Savings Bank of Annapolis holds the remaining $11 million in mortgages.

In recent months, Mr. Vogel's financial empire -- built on lucrative land deals in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs of Washington -- has shown signs of tottering. He has defaulted on two loans, owes $606,485 in federal income taxes for 1988 and last month paid $115,000 of a $310,000 judgment filed in a dispute with a former racetrack employee.

Mr. Vogel's problems were compounded Sept. 13 when he was arrested in Northern Virginia and charged with possession of 4 grams of cocaine. At the request of the Maryland Racing Commission, Mr. Vogel agreed last week to remove himself from operational and financial control of Rosecroft Raceway near Oxon Hill and Delmarva Downs in Ocean City, the two harness tracks in Maryland.

Today, Racing Commission officials will brief a joint legislative committee in Annapolis on the Vogel agreement and its effect on operations at the harness tracks.

Mr. Vogel's arrest while driving in an exclusive neighborhood of Northern Virginia stemmed from a federal grand jury investigation of the Prince George's County businessman that includes an inquiry into political corruption among developers in the county.

Mr. Vogel, 42, "denies emphatically any type of political corruption and wrongdoing of the nature that has been reported," said his attorney, Mr. Sandler.

He said Mr. Vogel will plead not guilty to the cocaine possession charge when he appears in court Oct. 16 in Fairfax County, Va.

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