After Mattingly’s Charges Dropped, Fritz Goes on The Offensive

By Guy Leonard, The County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (Sept. 16, 2010)—In the wake of all charges of witness tampering and theft having been dropped against Democrat candidate for the state’s attorney’s office John Mattingly, incumbent chief county prosecutor Richard Fritz has struck back at his rival.

Fritz issued a press statement last week comparing Mattingly, a Leonardtown lawyer who was recently acquitted in a major land theft case tried by a Prince George’s County special prosecutor, to O.J. Simpson, infamously accused but never found guilty of brutally murdering his wife nearly 15 years ago.

Isabel Cumming, the special prosecutor in the case, dropped all charges against Mattingly last week in a Prince George’s County Circuit Court.

“State’s Attorney Richard Fritz has indicated that the dropping of the charges against John Mattingly was unwarranted and that it is unfortunate that he was not able to prosecute this case,” Fritz’s statement read. “He has further stated that attorney John Mattingly will now have the distinct pleasure of joining the ranks of O.J. Simpson and a few others who have escaped justice, but now Mr. Mattingly’s actions will be in the hands of the electorate, who will be able to see past his obvious escape from facing the bar of justice.”

Daniel Jason Brown, Mattingly’s business partner and co-defendant in the land theft case, pleaded guilty to conspiring to tamper with a witness’ testimony last week in a shooting case involving defendant Terry Clarke.

According to documents from the prosecution, Clarke had engaged Mattingly as an attorney in the case and had set aside $20,000 at Mattingly’s request to cover expenses after Clarke was charged with firing at several hunters near his property on St. Andrews Church Road in 2007.

Brown then attempted to contact witnesses to the shooting in an effort to persuade them to avoid seeking criminal charges in exchange for money, prosecution documents stated.

Clarke had only given the $20,000 to Mattingly, court papers stated, and was to testify that he had not seen the money since.

Brown also pleaded guilty to construction contracting without a license; that was also a pending case where both he and Mattingly had been charged with stealing money from a disabled client of Mattingly’s who needed home improvement work done on her house

Michael Cain, political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, said that the release from Fritz’s office showed that the contest between Mattingly and the incumbent was now fully politicized, but it would take a lot to unseat Fritz.

“Mattingly will have to do a lot more to achieve an upset victory,” Cain told The County Times. “We haven’t seen much campaign activity from Mattingly.” Despite the acquittal in court, and the apparent dissolution of the prosecution’s case against him, Mattingly will still have to face the public’s questions surrounding his recent legal ordeal, Cain said.

“He’s got a big hurdle to overcome with the voters,” Cain said.

But Mattingly was happy with the results of the primary election Tuesday, he told The County Times.

“I had only been out from under indictment for four days and I still garnered within [about] 1,000 votes of Mr. Fritz,” Mattingly said. “I was very encouraged.”

Mattingly said that Fritz “engaged in a political witch hunt” against him.”

“The charges were unwarranted to begin with,” Mattingly said of indictments against him. “The electorate… will have a chance to put his shenanigans out of office.” Richard Fritz


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