Convicted S&L; figure wants a break Seidel, ex-head of First Maryland, asks that term be cut to four years.


Julian M. Seidel, the convicted former president of First Maryland Savings and Loan Inc., has asked a federal judge here to reduce his 12-year prison term to four years because the U.S. Parole Commission has refused to do so.

Seidel is serving his term at the federal prison camp in Allenwood, Pa., where his lawyers say he has become a model prisoner and has won awards for helping other inmates.

"He's a good man," said defense attorney James P. Ulwick in a telephone interview Friday. "He doesn't deserve to be treated the way he has been treated by the Parole Commission."

U.S. District Judge Joseph C. Howard imposed the 12-year term on Seidel in September 1989 for the defendant's convictions on nearly 20 conspiracy, mail-fraud and wire-fraud counts during a trial personally prosecuted by then-U.S. Attorney Breckinridge L. Willcox and then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas F. O'Neil 3rd.

The convictions were tied to the thrift's collapse in 1985 under the weight of millions of dollars worth of defaulted loans that Seidel and co-defendant James Porter, First Maryland's former senior vice president, arranged for friends and business associates at the expense of depositors at the now-defunct Silver Spring S&L.;

Howard and Willcox said at the time Seidel was sentenced that they thought it likely he would serve only about four years in prison -- one-third of his total sentence -- because his offenses occurred before the effective date of strict federal sentencing guidelines, which mandate no-parole prison terms for most criminal offenders.

Ulwick argued then that Seidel would have been sentenced to no more than four years' imprisonment if he had been sentenced under the no-parole guidelines, and that the defendant deserved no more than that for his offenses.

Seidel's motion for reconsideration of the 12-year sentence was filed in U.S. District Court here June 28.

It asks Howard to reduce Seidel's sentence to four years on grounds that the term was what the judge and the prosecutors intended him to serve in prison for his crimes.

According to the motion and related papers filed with it, the Parole Commission denied Seidel parole last October and told him that he could expect to serve his entire sentence because he was "the most culpable offender" in offenses which caused losses of more than $118 million at First Maryland.

Seidel appealed the denial to the commission's National Appeal Board the same day. But the appeal board denied his request, saying that the commission's decision was supported by the facts in his criminal case.

Seidel's attorneys then sought to reopen his parole case. They contended that losses at First Maryland totaled only $14 million, not $118 million, and the lower figure should be considered in determining the time Seidel should serve.

But the commission again rejected Seidel's efforts, stating that argument "had been previously considered and rejected," the court papers say.

The attorneys said in the reconsideration motion filed in court here that the Parole Commission will not adhere to Howard's original "sentencing intent" unless the judge reduces Seidel's 12-year sentence.

A transcript of the court record of Seidel's sentencing hearing, the attorneys said, clearly shows that Howard intended for Seidel to serve no more than four years in prison.

The motion also says a reduction in sentence is warranted for "humanitarian" reasons related to a health problem involving his daughter, Jennifer.

Ulwick said Friday that even if Seidel is granted the reduction in sentence to four years, that term will be twice the prison time that any other Maryland S&L; defendant has had to serve except Jeffrey A. Levitt, the convicted former head of Old Court Savings and Loan.

"We're not asking for anything more than what we believe the [original] 12-year sentence should mean," Ulwick said.

To date, the U.S. attorney's office has not responded to Seidel's motion, and Howard has not yet decided whether he will grant the defendant's request for a court hearing on the sentencing issues.

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