MARVIN MANDEL was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 19, 1920. He attended public schools, graduated from the Baltimore City College in 1937, and received a law degree from the University of Maryland in 1942. That same year he enlisted in the Army and served as an instructor at Aberdeen Proving Ground and at Texarkana, Texas, until he was honorably discharged in 1944. He went on to practice law in Baltimore. In 1952 Mandel was appointed to the Maryland House of Delegates to fill a vacancy, and won reelection to four more terms. He became speaker in 1963 and served until 1969. When Governor Agnew resigned on January 7, 1969, after his election as vice-president of the United States, Mandel was elected by the General Assembly to fill the balance of Governor Agnew’s term, which expired in January 1971. Governor Mandel was subsequently elected by the voters to a full four-year term on November 3, 1970, and he was reelected in 1974. During his tenure, state government was reorganized into 12 executive departments. An agency was created to manage public transportation and to develop subway systems for Baltimore and the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. The courts were reorganized, a system of public defenders was implemented, and a public school construction program began. Governor Mandel chaired the Democratic Governors’ Conference (1971-72); Middle Atlantic States Governors’ Conference (1971); Council of State Governments (1973); and the National Governors’ Conference (1972-1973). He also served on the Executive Committee of the National Conference of State Legislative Leaders. In 1973, a federal grand jury began investigating political corruption in Maryland. Agnew resigned a few months later, pleading no contest to tax evasion. Mandel was accused of accepting cash and expensive gifts from friends and using his influence as governor to increase the value of their business holdings. In June 1977, while preparing for trial, Governor Mandel stepped aside and made Lieutenant Governor Blair Lee III acting governor. Lee continued in this capacity until January 15, 1979, when Mandel returned to complete the final days of his term. He fought the charges until 1977, when he was convicted of mail fraud and racketeering. He was sentenced to four years in prison, but President Ronald Reagan commuted the sentence to 19 months. In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision overturning his conviction.
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