A Baltimore law firm has sued Bel Air developer Steven R. Hankins, claiming he has not paid more than $12,000 in legal fees owed the firm.

The firm, Neuberger, Quinn and Gielen, filed suit in Harford Circuit Court July 19, asking the court to order Hankins to pay $12,035 the firm claims he owes, according to court documents.

The complaint is one of at least 45 civil suits filed against Hankins, 38, his wife and his companies since 1989, according to court records. He also has criminal charges pending in Circuit Court.

Thesuits have come from banks, construction suppliers, and subcontractors to the Maryland Historical Trust and the Maryland Environmental Trust.

The law firm sent Hankins the first bill for its services on Feb. 15, but the attorneys did not receive payment, the suit says. The firm again requested payment on March 15, April 15, May 15 and June15.

"Despite those demands, to date, Hankins has failed and refused to make payment," the complaint says.

The firm also is asking the court to order Hankins to pay court costs and 10 percent interest on the bill, documents say.

The bill is for the firm's representation of Hankins between Oct. 1, 1990, and Feb. 1, court papers say, ina lawsuit the developer filed against two Prince George's County men.

In the suit, Hankins sought $5 million in damages and four properties from Frederic Richmond and his son, Howard Richmond, both of Adelphi, court records say.

Circuit Judge William O. Carr awarded Hankins the properties but dismissed the developer's request for damages, records say.

The properties included the Singer Square shoppingcenter in Abingdon, the Courtland Square building in Bel Air, and anoffice building and motel in the Emmorton Industrial Park, records say.

The Richmonds issued Hankins a $300,000 loan on May 1, 1990, records say. Hankins and the Richmonds signed an agreement that calledfor Hankins to give the Richmonds the deed for the properties if he did not repay the loan. When Hankins missed a June 1, 1990, payment, the Richmonds sent a representative to get the deed, court records say.

Hankins argued in court papers that the Richmonds did not provide him with a 30-day notice to collect the deed, which was part of their agreement.

Hankins is to stand trial in Circuit Court on charges that he forged the signature of an Ocean City subcontractor on a $68,700 mechanic's lien. A trial date has not been scheduled.

Hankins was one of Harford's most active commercial developers during the 1980s. He was indicted January 8 on two counts of theft and one counteach of forging and cashing a counterfeit document.

If convicted of all charges, he faces up to 50 years in prison and $4,000 in fines.

The developer averted a foreclosure auction for one of his most recent projects, Aberdeen Marketplace, by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, court records say.

The 100,600-square-foot shopping center near Interstate 95 in Aberdeen was scheduled to be sold ata foreclosure auction July 15. The center was developed by Aberdeen Marketplace Inc., which is controlled by Hankins.

The project's largest lender, Signet Bank, contends in court documents that $10.6 million in unpaid principal, interest and fees is owed by the developer.

Hankins averted a foreclosure on three more of his holdings, including his 283-acre estate east of Bel Air, by paying the $205,000 balance on the mortgage for the properties in October 1990.

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