Rendelman v. State

Decision Date06 July 2007
Docket NumberNo. 2616, Sept. Term, 2005.,2616, Sept. Term, 2005.
Citation927 A.2d 468,175 Md. App. 422
PartiesScott Lewis RENDELMAN v. STATE of Maryland.
CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland


Scott Lewis Rendelman mailed a letter to William Elmhirst threatening to sue him for damages if he did not pay a $100,000 "settlement demand." Rendelman's threat was made in bad faith, with actual knowledge that he had no factual or legal ground for the threatened suit. A jury in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County convicted Rendelman of one count of extortion by economic threat and one count of extortion in writing by economic threat.1 On appeal, Rendelman challenges the legal sufficiency of the evidence to support his convictions. Finding merit in this contention, we shall reverse.2


In 1981, Elmhirst hired Rendelman to work as a bookkeeper for his company, Solarquest.3 Rendelman's duties included reconciling the books of account and paying bills. He was not a financial planner or a certified public accountant, and his job did not involve making investments or handling financial matters other than straight bookkeeping.

Three years later, in 1984, Kevin P. Fay, Elmhirst's lawyer, became suspicious that Rendelman might be embezzling money from the company. Fay reviewed Solarquest's books of account and found 22 checks made out to Rendelman, and ostensibly signed by Elmhirst. The checks totaled $246,000. All the reference lines on the checks bore the notation, "Loan."

As it turned out, Elmhirst knew nothing about the checks and had not authorized any of the so-called "loans." Fay and Elmhirst immediately reported the theft to the authorities, and obtained a court order that, among other things, froze certain of Rendelman's accounts.

On December 20, 1984, Rendelman wrote Elmhirst a long, conciliatory letter, admitting that he had taken the money but explaining that he had invested it in gold coins, mortgages, and notes that (in his opinion) were sound investments for Elmhirst. Rendelman acknowledged that his conduct technically constituted theft but tried to excuse it, saying he had been prescient about the expanding economy and simply had taken it upon himself to make investments for Elmhirst that would be to Elmhirst's benefit. He promised to assign the notes and mortgages to Elmhirst. He offered his resignation and attached a check for $93,496.20.4 The letter said nothing to suggest that Rendelman thought that Solarquest or Elmhirst owed him money.

The next day, December 21, 1984, Elmhirst, through Fay, filed a civil action for conversion against Rendelman, in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County.

On January 14, 1985, Rendelman brought his own civil action for "return of property" against Elmhirst and Fay, also in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. By then, his conciliatory tone was gone, and he began sending letters to Elmhirst that were crude and accusatory.

The court consolidated the civil cases. Eventually, Rendelman and Elmhirst entered into a settlement agreement. (The terms of the agreement are not reflected in the record in the instant case.) In December of 1986, Rendelman moved to set aside the settlement agreement. When that motion was denied, he noted an appeal to this Court. His appeal was dismissed administratively, on March 1, 1988, for failure to file a brief.

In the meantime, Rendelman was prosecuted on the felony theft charges in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. On September 10, 1986, he was convicted on 15 counts. About six weeks later, he was sentenced to 10 years' incarceration, all but 18 months suspended, in favor of three years' supervised probation.

In late 1986, Rendelman stepped up his letter-writing campaign. He sent vitriolic and profane letters to Elmhirst, blaming him for the fact that his wife had divorced him and he was estranged from his young children. He also blamed Elmhirst for the physical and emotional pain he claimed he was suffering in prison. In some of the letters, Rendelman called Elmhirst a liar and a thief, and alleged that Elmhirst owed him $20,000. Over time, Rendelman's letters grew increasingly vulgar and included wishes that Elmhirst and his entire family would die.

All told, Rendelman sent one letter to Elmhirst in 1986; twelve in 1987; and four in 1988. In his third letter in 1988, he announced that he had decided to "play it safe" and stop writing, so he would not jeopardize an early release date. In March 1988 (apparently after being transferred into federal custody), Rendelman sent one more letter to Elmhirst, claiming that he had been raped in prison.

Rendelman also made Fay an object of his letter writing campaign. He sent Fay three letters in 1987 and one in 1988. These letters also were exceedingly vulgar and profane. They included threats to drive Fay's wife and children away from him.

Rendelman finished serving his sentence in the felony theft case in February of 1988. He was released to federal authorities on a pending federal detainer, and began serving a federal sentence.5

On December 21, 2001, Rendelman finally was released from prison and began his three year period of supervised probation.

Exactly three years and one day later, on December 22, 2004, Rendelman sent a letter to Elmhirst, the first since 1988. The letter is typed and bears a letterhead with Rendelman's name and an address in Sacramento, California. Rendelman mailed a copy of the letter to Fay. The December 22, 2004 letter ("Letter") is the basis for the extortion convictions in the case at bar.

One only can fully appreciate the contents and flavor of the Letter by reading it in its entirety. We set it forth with the most exceptionally profane vulgarities deleted:

William K. Elmhirst, you filthy [expletives],

I've waited 20 years to write this letter. It was December 24, 1984, almost exactly 20 years ago, when you froze my bank accounts, ruined my Christmas with my family, and started the process that would put me in prison for 17 years. You're a [expletives] piece of dog shit. Thanks to you, my kids grew up without a father and my wife (or should I say my ex-wife) is a widow. [Expletives] I hate your guts. You will NEVER be able to give me back my lost years, return me to father my 6 and 2 year old kids, or give me back my wife. My life is ruined and it's all your doing. You made false claims against me, stole my money, and you don't give a shit. The only thing you could do is give me back my money. That won't make everything right again, but it's the best you can do. It's the only thing you can do.

I was released on December 21, 2001, and I've been on three years parole. During that time I was not allowed to contact you, I was not allowed to travel, and I couldn't change my residence. But now I am off of parole. Now there is nothing stopping me from coming back there. NOTHING!! You stole about $22,000 from me. It was actually a little more, and yes, I still have the exact amount in my records which have been sent to a third party who has kept them for me all these years. I can look it up if it becomes necessary, but for the purpose of settlement, let's just say it was $22,000. Twenty years at 9% compounded interest makes the current amount due $123,297.04. I will settle for $100,000 even. This is the amount I want. You give me back my money, and I swear, you will never see or hear from me again. I will take the money and leave this stinking fucking country and the United Fucking States can kiss my ass goodbye. This country breaks up families, puts innocent people in prison without fair trials, and no one cares. Well, fuck all you people. This is the wrong country to marry in and raise a family in. My son is in the army and is in Iraq and the government will probably have him killed and I never knew him beyond the age of 6 years old. Fuck all of you. Give me my money and I'm gone.

But if you don't give me my money, I swear, I will come back there and I will knock on your front door. I will demand my money, and if you refuse, I will sue you, and I will sue you for the entire $123,297.04. I will make your remaining years of your life miserable. I will sue you, I will file liens on your property, I will have the sheriff seize your assets. Don't think the statute of limitations will help you. I remember from my legal research that the time of the statute of limitations is tolled while I am involuntarily out of the state, and I have been involuntarily out of the State of Fucking Maryland since 1988. The statute didn't start running again until today. The way I figure, I still have another year to file on you, but I'm not going to wait that long. I will give you one, maybe two months, and if I don't have my money back, I will come back. I will quit my dead end job and move out of my one room studio and I will come back. I will find you. If I have to hunt for you door to door, I will find you, and when I find you, I will sue you. How old are you now, about 76? 77? I don't even know if you're still alive, but if you are, I WILL find you. If you're dead, I will search for your heirs, and when I find them, I will demand my money from them, because they did not inherit your money. It was MINE!!!! I will demand my money from them, and if they refuse, I will sue them. I will sue them and get my money, and then I will leave this stinking country and never come back. [Expletives].

I want my money sent to me at the above address. If I do not hear from you, I will return. I will come to your house and look you in the eye. Don't think this is over. Far from it. It's just starting. All these years, you got away with it because I was locked up. I lost cases because I could not...

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8 cases
  • State v. Hynes
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • August 5, 2009
    ...that was extortionate but did not fall within the ambit of the narrow crime of common law extortion." Rendelman v. State, 175 Md.App. 422, 927 A.2d 468, 474 (Ct.Spec.App.2007), aff'd, 404 Md. 500, 947 A.2d 546 (2008). This statutory form of extortion applied to both private individuals and ......
  • United States v. Machado-Erazo
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • October 1, 2013
    ...or economic harm. D.C.Code § 22–3251 (2001); Md.Code. Ann., Crim. Law §§ 3–701, 3–705 (West 2002 & Supp.); Rendelman v. State, 175 Md.App. 422, 927 A.2d 468, 475 (Md.Ct.Spec.App.2007) (Maryland law “punishes the extortive threat, not the actual attainment of money (or thing of value)”). The......
  • United States v. Machado-Erazo
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • October 1, 2013
    ...or economic harm. D.C. Code § 22-3251 (2001); Md. Code. Ann., Crim. Law §§ 3-701, 3-705 (West 2002 & Supp.); Rendelman v. State, 927 A.2d 468, 435 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2007) (Maryland law "punishes the extortive threat, not the actual attainment of money (or thing of value)"). The government......
  • State v. Rendelman
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • May 9, 2008
    ...The Court of Special Appeals reversed Respondent's convictions on the grounds of insufficiency of the evidence. See Rendelman v. State, 175 Md.App. 422, 927 A.2d 468 (2007). Thereafter, the State of Maryland filed a petition for writ of certiorari, to which Respondent filed an answer and co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Authorized by Law: Ex Parte Contact With Government Officials Represented by Counsel
    • United States
    • Kansas Bar Association KBA Bar Journal No. 89-6, August 2020
    • Invalid date
    ...S.Ct. 242 (1966). [26] United States v. Enmons, 410 U.S. 396, 93 S. Ct. 1007, 1207, 35 L.E.2d 379 (1973). See also, Rendelman v. State, 175 Md. App. 422, 441, 927 A.2d 468 (2007). [27] Kansas Constitution, Bill of Rights, § 3. See also, Flynn v. The Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, 111 Kan......

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