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Quick and Dirty

Quick Release

By Van Smith | Posted 3/29/2006

Gilbert Sapperstein, the 74-year-old former city contractor who last August pled guilty to stealing more than $3.3 million from the city school system in a bribery scheme, was paroled Feb. 24 (“Hot Contract,” Mobtown Beat, Jan. 26, 2005). While no longer on home detention, which he started serving after a month of incarceration early last fall, Sapperstein will remain under the Maryland Parole Commission’s watch until Feb. 24, 2007, the conclusion of his 18-month sentence, according to the chairman of the commission.

Under the Parole Commission’s risk-assessment calculations for prisoners being considered for release, Sapperstein posed “the least risk to public safety,” says Chairman David Blumberg. The hearing officer who reviewed Sapperstein’s case recommended immediate parole, and Commissioner Carmen Amedori (a former Carroll County Republican state delegate) concurred, Blumberg says.

Under the conditions of Sapperstein’s parole, he must have nothing to do with guns or illegal drugs and get permission before changing his home or job, or before leaving the state. Florida real-estate records show that Sapperstein and his wife own a condominium in Hillsboro Beach, a Broward County waterfront community between Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton. Blumberg, when told about the property, said that Sapperstein would risk his parole status if he visited his Florida abode without obtaining prior permission from the Parole Commission.

Meanwhile, on Feb. 17, just before the commission granted Sapperstein parole, the city’s Department of Housing and Community Development filed a criminal misdemeanor charge against him for failing to register a property with the department, as required. A trial in the case is scheduled for April 19. Donald Mazor, Sapperstein’s attorney on the case, declined to take a reporter’s phone call, but Housing spokesman David Tillman confirmed the charge. A March 24 call to Sapperstein’s home near Greenspring Valley was not answered. Although Sapperstein’s parole conditions include the statement “Obey all laws,” Blumberg indicated that a housing violation, even if he were convicted, would not be a parole violation.

Before his theft and bribery conviction, court records reflect that Sapperstein repeatedly has drawn criminal charges in connection with his video-poker machine company, Star Coin Machine Co., and his real-estate holdings. He faced 107 gambling-related charges in state courts in the 1980s and ’90s, though prosecutors declined to prosecute nearly all of them. In two of those cases, he received probation before judgment and was fined $1,475. He was also charged with 18 housing-code violations in 1984, receiving probation before judgment for 16 of them, while prosecutors declined to pursue the remaining two charges. In 2003, Gilbert Sapperstein faced 10 housing-code violations, and received probation before judgment and $170 in fines.

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