As a fugitive in Las Vegas last year, former state health official John M. Staubitz Jr. tried his luck at a slot machine and came up a $2,400 winner.
Yesterday, he tried his luck again in a bid to persuade a Carroll County judge to let him out of jail while he awaits trial on charges connected to a string of house break-ins last month.
This time he came up a $500,000 loser.
In refusing to change Mr. Staubitz's half-million-dollar bail, Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold said it was probably the only way to guarantee the defendant's appearance at trial.
"I feel the chances of flight would be pretty good," the judge said from the bench. "The best predictor of what a person is going to do in the future is what he has done in the past."
Last year, Mr. Staubitz was convicted of skimming thousands of dollars from the Maryland State Games, an Olympics-style amateur athletics program.
In July 1992 -- two days before he was to be sentenced -- he fled to Las Vegas, where he stayed until Maryland police arrested him about a month later.
Mr. Staubitz was sentenced to 10 months in state prison, and he was released in February.
After his release, he began to sell home and personal safety devices.
In April, he began selling real estate for Coldwell Banker Grempler Real Estate Co.
On Sept. 24, state police arrested him and his alleged accomplice, Robert E. Emmons Jr., 29, and charged them with four Carroll break-ins. Since then, police in Baltimore and Howard counties have charged the pair with eight additional burglaries. Police believe they stole property worth about $100,000.
At yesterday's hearing, Mr. Staubitz and his attorney told Judge Arnold that it would be "remarkable" if Mr. Staubitz again failed to make a court appearance.
On the stand, Mr. Staubitz told the judge that he fled to Las Vegas in the State Games scandal because he was confused.
"It was very difficult period in my life, I just couldn't take it any more, so I just left," he said.
"I certainly wouldn't hurt my family again. I think it's in my best interest to be in court and defend myself," he said.
From Las Vegas, Mr. Staubitz called his wife and parents several times, but didn't tell them where he was for three weeks. While there, he gambled infrequently, once hitting a $2,400 jackpot on a slot machine, he said yesterday.
"I certainly wasn't going to make a living gambling," he said.
Before police caught up with him, he returned to his Catonsville home, then fled again and "putzed around" Chicago before going back to Las Vegas, he said yesterday.
While assuring Judge Arnold that he would appear for trial, he said he knew nothing of the break-ins with which he is charged.
His attorney, Frank D. Coleman of Westminster, said Mr. Staubitz had been "doing well" on his probation, a remark Carroll State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman mocked in his arguments against a lower bail.
"Defense counsel related to the court that he did well on probation. He sure did. He stole over $100,000 worth of stuff in seven months," Mr. Hickman said.
"That's better money than some of our state officials get."