Baltimore leaders setting up fund to help Parren Mitchell with debts

Bills, taxes rise to $140,000 as nephew runs finances

By Ivan Penn and Walter F. Roche Jr.
Sun Staff

June 1, 2002

Baltimore community leaders pledged yesterday to create a fund to help former Rep. Parren J. Mitchell, who has fallen more than $140,000 in debt while his nephew Michael B. Mitchell
has handled his finances.

"I am absolutely devastated by the news," said NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, who succeeded Mitchell as the congressman representing Maryland's 7th District. "Without laying
blame, for a lot of us the question is: What can we do to help? No one that has known or worked with him would want his name besmirched by debt."

Raymond V. Haysbert, a Baltimore businessman and former head of Parks Sausage, said he plans to meet with Mfume and form a committee to establish the fund for Parren Mitchell, a
civil rights leader.

"The community is totally devastated at the plight of our congressman, and the immediate reaction is to form a committee to make sure he is protected," Haysbert said.

Parren Mitchell's finances are overseen by his nephew, Michael B. Mitchell, a former city councilman and state senator. An article in The Sun yesterday showed Michael Mitchell, who
has power of attorney for his 80-year-old uncle, failed to pay at least $100,000 in bills at the Keswick Multi-Care Center in Roland Park. Instead, Michael Mitchell used some of his uncle's
money for personal expenses, including a car and a bar he helps run.

Parren Mitchell's debts total more than $140,000 and include unpaid state and federal taxes.

Parren Mitchell, Maryland's first African-American congressman, said he was unaware that he had any unpaid debts because his nephew "takes care of everything for me." Michael
Mitchell's debts total hundreds of thousands of dollars. His control of his uncle's finances includes a $60,000-a-year congressional pension and a trust that holds title to Parren Mitchell's
West Baltimore home.

Michael Mitchell declined repeated requests for an interview about his handling of his uncle's affairs. But in yesterday's edition of The Baltimore Afro-American, he criticized The Sun,
saying reporters who spoke with his uncle should have sought the family's approval first. He did not discuss his uncle's unpaid bills or his handling of his uncle's accounts.

Clarence M. Mitchell III, a former state senator and Michael Mitchell's brother, said on the Larry Young Show on WOLB radio yesterday that "a full statement will be put together. We
will respond appropriately."

The statement is expected to be made on the Larry Young Show early next week.

On the show yesterday, Clarence Mitchell called The Sun's article "scurrilous and inaccurate." He said his brother ensured that their uncle was well taken care of: "Parren is still alive
today because of Michael."

Parren Mitchell has been at Keswick since early 1999, when he was admitted after suffering several strokes. But a board member at the nonprofit nursing home said no payments had been
made since he had been admitted.

Clarence Mitchell said on the radio show that the Mitchell family planned to meet with Keswick yesterday.

John Baldwin, an attorney for Keswick, said nursing home officials had no comment because of confidentiality requirements.

In addition to the bills at Keswick, Parren Mitchell has been sued by the General Motors Acceptance Corp. for $16,000 owed on a car that was bought in his name without his knowledge
by Michael Mitchell. GMAC filed the lawsuit after Michael Mitchell had an accident in the car and failed to make the remaining payments.

Also, the state and federal governments have filed liens against Parren Mitchell for $25,532 in unpaid taxes. The liens were filed after he went into Keswick.

Michael Mitchell has long had financial troubles. He was disbarred for stealing from the 3-year-old son of a murder victim. He has state and federal tax liens of almost $300,000, and a
foreclosure is filed against his home, among other debts that add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Copyright © 2002, The Baltimore Sun