The curious career of Abraham Korotki as a faith healer came to an unceremonious end yesterday when he was found guilty of assault in Dundalk District Court.
The Towson lawyer was accused of striking Debra Jane Lowenstein on the forehead and shouting "Heal!" to cure her of her smoking habit in a Timonium restaurant the night of May 15.
He had also directed his son, Harry, to tie Ms. Lowenstein's belt loop to her chair with a kite string while he distracted her with his evangelist imitation, according to testimony.
It was all a friendly prank, said Mr. Korotki. "Everyone was laughing," he testified.
Judge Michael L. McCampbell was not amused.
"You must have graduated from the Mike Tyson school of dating," the judge snapped. "What gives you the right to invade someone's space without their permission?"
"I find your behavior indefensible, crass and offensive. It is not to be tolerated. It is unbecoming to a member of the bar or anyone else," the judge said before pronouncing his guilty verdict.
The judge gave Mr. Korotki, 47, one year of probation before judgment and fined him $250. He suspended the fine and ordered him to perform 50 hours of community service.
Mr. Korotki has been in trouble before. His license to practice law was suspended in 1990 for fee gouging.
He represented five city firefighters who were injured fighting a chemical fire. He said he would represent them for a 40 percent cut of whatever they won in court, a rate he eventually raised to 75 percent.
Mr. Korotki claimed $488,000 of the $628,000 settlement.
The Maryland Court of Appeals suspended Mr. Korotki for 18 months and called the case "a particularly aggravated case of greed overriding professionalism." He was reinstated in October 1991.
A spokesman for the Attorney Grievance Commission of the Maryland Bar Association would not comment on what action the commission could or would take after yesterday's conviction.
The events of May 15 began when Mr. Korotki entered Michael's restaurant with seven other people and sat next to a table at which Ms. Lowenstein and two women friends were seated.
Ms. Lowenstein, 40, of Randallstown, was having dinner in the smoking section when Mr. Korotki approached, struck up a conversation, then asked her to stop smoking because she was bothering someone at his table. She refused.
"She was smoking like a chimney," said Mr. Korotki yesterday. "I asked her why all pretty girls smoke. Then I went into my Ernest Angley routine." (Ernest Angley is a faith healer whose program appears regularly on television.)
Mr. Korotki, who lives in Owings Mills, said he placed one hand on her shoulder and one hand on her forehead and said "Heal! You will no longer smoke." He also said he sent the women drinks because they were such "good sports."
"I was surprised when the police showed up," he said. "My days as a healer are definitely over."
Ms. Lowenstein said Mr. Korotki held her by the neck and actually struck her three times on the forehead. She said that at the time of the incident, she was recovering from surgery on her neck to repair damage caused by an auto accident some years ago. She said she was injured by Mr. Korotki's blows, and spent 5 1/2 hours at Greater Baltimore Medical Center after the incident. She later underwent physical therapy, she said.
Mr. Korotki apparently slipped out a side door after the trial to avoid a cluster of television cameras in front of the courthouse.
The Baltimore law firm of Fowley, Beckley and Stevens has filed suit in Baltimore County Circuit Court on behalf of Ms. Lowenstein against Mr. Korotki and his son, seeking damages totaling $7 million. Harry Korotki was not charged in the May 15 incident.