An attorney who was jailed and disbarred for making illegal photocopies at the Howard County Circuit Court clerk's office is underwriting his son's election campaign to replace the clerk who turned him in to police.
Melvin Gary Rybczynski, through his title search company across the street from the Ellicott City courthouse, has donated $3,500 to the campaign of his son, Matthew G. Rybczynski -- more than half of what he's raised.
The elder Rybczynski's company conducts title searches at the court clerk's office. If his son is elected clerk of the court, he would be responsible for setting photocopy rates and hours of access for title searchers who use the court's public records.
"Yeah, I've been labeled the revenge candidate," said the younger Rybczynski, a 27-year-old actor who works for his father's title company. "But I'm running, not my father. And if you take an objective look at everyone in the race, I think I'm the best candidate."
Rybczynski is one of two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination Tuesday for Circuit Court clerk. His opponent in the primary is Leslie J. Cale. The winner will face Republican Margaret D. Rappaport, a two-term incumbent, in the general election Nov. 3.
It was Rappaport who, in 1996, called police when she suspected employees of Rybczynski's title company of skirting the required 25-cent fee for making copies. An undercover police officer who waited in the records room of the clerk's office for three days saw the elder Rybczynski use a government-owned copying card to make as many as 20,000 photocopies without paying for them.
The elder Rybczynski, who turns 53 today, was sentenced to 14 days in jail and ordered to pay $2,848 in restitution to the Circuit Court clerk's office, Howard County District Court records show. He was disbarred by the state Court of Appeals four months later.
But if candidate Rybczynski (pronounced Rib-CHIN-ski) is noteworthy for his lineage, his campaign has caught notice for its vigor. His black-and-green campaign signs are a conspicuous presence around Ellicott City, and he has become a regular at community functions and parades.
Working solely with family members and volunteers, he has crafted a campaign that exceeds the typical boundaries of a primary election for the clerk's position. While his opponent, a campaign veteran, has raised less than $1,000, Rybczynski raised $5,200 by last month, and says more has been collected. Much has been spent on T-shirts, buttons and campaign signs.
An occasional actor with appearances on "Homicide: Life on the Street," a John Waters film and several commercials, Matt Rybczynski was a title abstracter for six years for his father's company, Emerald Abstracts Inc. With his spiked blond hair and James Dean-like campaign photographs, Rybczynski said his age and looks are more puzzling to people than his background.
"Marge Rappaport is a very good politician, but she is a very bad clerk. That's why I'm here," he said.
Rappaport questioned Rybczynski's qualifications for the clerk's job.
"This is a business -- a $32 million business," said Rappaport, referring to the office's annual revenue collected from recording taxes and other fees. "You need experience and knowledge to run it. I hope he's doing it for the right reasons."
Pub Date: 9/12/98