He was the governor's son who could have been a golden boy, until things went very bad. First, Gary Mandel turned to drugs. Now he's accused of bouncing checks, thousands of dollars worth, and angry creditors are pursuing him while Mandel and his wife and children and three pets kill time in a room at a Comfort Inn in Palm Beach, Fla.
Mandel, 51-year old son of former Gov. Marvin Mandel, says there must be some mistake. But a Washington mortgage company threw Mandel out of his luxury Greenspring Valley home in August, and now creditors in Florida say Mandel has written large checks that have bounced, and simply failed to pay other bills.
"I'm in the process of taking care of everything," Mandel said yesterday, from his Palm Beach motel room. But then he seemed to change his mind and denied a series of allegations made against him.
For Mandel, whose law license was suspended after a 1985 narcotics conviction but was reinstated in 1989, this is the latest in a life of precarious twists and turns. Yesterday, an official at Asset Lending Mortgage Co. in Washington confirmed that Mandel lost his Baltimore home last summer after "he made about four mortgage payments, and then didn't pay us anything for a full year."
But after living in a Reisterstown Road motel here for several months, Mandel chartered a private jet plane to Palm Beach. The jet cost $8,600. Mandel's check bounced.
"He conned us," said Bill Caudell at Majestic Jet Service in Frederick.
"We've written to Mr. Mandel," added Dan Loftus, attorney for the airline service. "We sent him a certified letter, but he has not responded."
"I don't know what they're talking about," Mandel said yesterday.
When he arrived in Palm Beach, Mandel contacted Anthony & Gordon Real Estate Inc. and said he wanted to purchase a house -- a $3.9 million house, for which he was asked to put down a $375,000 deposit.
"He told us he was an attorney and that his father was the former governor of Maryland," said Betty Jones, agent for the real estate company. "He told us he had this wonderful house back in Maryland, and that somebody drove past and fell in love with it, and made him an offer he couldn't turn down.
"He gave us a check for $50,000 and said he'd give us the other $325,000 at the end of the week. This was in January. We never got the rest of it, and the $50,000 check bounced. When we reached him, he said he was in Baltimore taking care of some problems but would get the money to us.
"When he came back down, he asked me if he could borrow $300 from me. He said his credit card was maxed out. I said, can't you get help from your law firm, or your father? He said he was having trouble with the law firm, and didn't know where his father was."
Yesterday, Mandel's old law firm, Franklin & Shapiro, said he'd ceased his association with the firm "about a month ago."
In January, Mandel had the $3.9 million Palm Beach house inspected. The inspection cost $1,370. Yesterday, Albert McNamara at ABODE Building Consultants, in North Miami, said Mandel never paid the bill, though the money had been promised within 10 days.
"We've changed locations," Mandel said yesterday when asked about the series of bad checks. "And we've changed accountants. I relocated. But I'm in the process of taking care of everything. All will be taken care of. We changed our mind on the house."
For several weeks, Mandel, his wife, Rita, their three children and three pets lived at the luxury Bradley House apartments in Palm Beach. At the Bradley House, manager Jim Clark says, "Mr. Mandel got here six weeks ago. He gave me a check for $3,700, which bounced. A bad check is a felony here. I could get him arrested, no doubt about it. I'd rather get my money."
"I don't know what he's talking about," Mandel said yesterday.
Two months ago, Mandel hired American Way Van Lines to move his furniture to Palm Beach. Yesterday, American Way said Mandel owes them more than $10,000. "He promised the moon and didn't give us anything," said an employee, who said the company has Mandel's furniture in storage.
"You're trying to crucify me," Mandel said over the telephone yesterday.
Contacted about his son, former Gov. Marvin Mandel said yesterday, "He's in Florida? I didn't even know he was there. I haven't talked to him in about six weeks. I had no idea he was even there."