Balto. Co. Planning Appointee Had Legal Trouble

April 1, 2011

Howard L. Perlow, a recent appointee to the Baltimore County Planning Board, was convicted in the 1990s in a high-profile title insurance fraud case.

Perlow, who was appointed by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz in February, operated Bay State Title, the largest title company in Baltimore. In 1989, investigators found that $1.6 million was missing from an escrow account. Perlow pleaded guilty to misappropriating about $300,000 belonging to his company and to the Chicago Title Insurance Co. of Maryland, and served prison time. He was pardoned in 2002 by then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

When reached by phone Friday, Perlow said he did not want to comment, but that he did discuss the matter with Kamenetz before he was appointed.

Ellen Kobler, a spokeswoman for the County Executive, noted that the pardon expunged the conviction from Perlow’s record. “Beyond that, we wouldn’t have any comment,” she said.

Several County Council members and Planning Board chairman Edward J. Gilliss said they were not aware of Perlow’s background. His appointment did not require council confirmation. Two council members, Republican Todd Huff and Democrat Kenneth N. Oliver, said they believed that Perlow had paid his debt to society.

Huff said, “If the governor feels that he deserved to be pardoned and he served his time as they say, then it is what it is.”

“Sometimes we all make mistakes,” Oliver said. “If he has paid his debt to society, then he should be allowed to contribute to the betterment of our county.”

Since 2002, Perlow has contributed more than $33,000 to numerous political action committees and candidates, including Kamenetz, Oliver, Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Gov. Robert Ehrlich and others, according to a campaign finance database maintained by the Center for American Politics and Citizenship at the University of Maryland.

Perlow holds an at-large seat and lives in Pikesville. His term ends in 2013.

-Raven L. Hill

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