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United States v. Slayman

March 22, 1985


On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, (Crim. No. 83-00028-01), (Honorable Rabe F. Marsh)

Author: Adams


Before: ADAMS, WEIS and WISDOM,*fn* Circuit Judges.

ADAMS, Circuit Judge

Defendant Glen E. Slayman appeals the district court's denial of his motion to vacate his conviction and sentence and to grant a new trial. Because the denial of defendant's motions was not in error, we will affirm the judgment of the district court.


Slayman was a building contractor operating his own company, Arrow Engineers and Consultants, Inc. He devised a scheme to defraud churches of money by promising that the could use his contacts at the Mellon Foundation to obtain funds for proposed construction.

Defendant professed to be a born-again Christian and made representations to ministers and other church representatives that he was a church builder. In this regard, Slayman sought out churches in need of funds to finance construction of church-related buildings and claimed to have influence with the Mellon Foundation, which occasionally helps to finance such construction projects. In fact, his only connection with Mellon activities was an acquaintance who was a teller at a Mellon Bank branch office.

Slayman informed the churches that architectural drawings were a prerequisite to obtaining a foundation grant and claimed that Clarence Blezard, an architect, also had influence with the Mellon Foundation. Some of the churches thereafter signed contracts with Blezard to obtain the required drawings. In fact, Blezard shared office space with Slayman and defendant deposited the checks for the architect's fees into his own account. In this way, Slayman fraudulently received $140,000.

On June 2, 1983, a jury convicted Slayman of twelve counts of mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341 (1982), and three counts of transporting an individual in interstate commerce to execute a scheme to defraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2314 (1982).

At trial, Slayman was represented by Samuel Orr, Esq., who had been a practicing attorney for eighteen years. Orr had been an Assistant United States Attorney for eight years and in 1977 returned to private practice, with a specialty in criminal law. Orr began representing Slayman in 1980 when some of defendant's bank records were subpoenaed. After the government indicted Slayman on March 2, 1983, Orr had a 4-1/2 hour meeting with Slayman and his wife. Thereafter, until the beginning of the trial in June, Orr met with defendant two or three times a week for periods ranging from one to two hours.

During these numerous meetings, neither defendant nor his wife ever informed Orr that Slayman had been seeing a therapist since 1979 or that he was then taking medication for a mental condition. Orr testified that because he found Slayman very helpful in preparing for trial he did not feel it necessary to make inquiries into defendant's psychological history. Orr observed that Slayman had a tendency to ramble when answering questions but gave such behavior no special significance. The attorney considered this speech pattern to be consistent with defendant's character as an overpowering salesman. Moreover, according to Orr, Slayman appeared to understand the charges and the issues in the case and was knowledgeable of which witnesses would be helpful and harmful.

Approximately ten days before trial, Orr received a letter from Dr. George Demos, a clinical psychologist who had treated Slayman occasionally since 1980. App. at 107a. On his own initiative, defendant apparently obtained the letter to secure a continuance. In the letter, Dr. Demos stated that Slayman had "suffered serious physical and emotional damage" as a result of a fall from a scaffold. The psychologist concluded that defendant should not be permitted to testify in court. Because he believed the letter was too ambiguous, Orr did not present it to the district court.

At trial, Orr noticed that Slayman's ability to respond to questioning "deteriorated somewhat" but attributed this condition to the pressures at trial and defendant's lack of sleep. One example of his unusual behavior was his claim that he had done some investigative work on a mission for the President. App. at 128a. Orr did not give serious consideration to a defense of insanity because there were only a few isolated statements that could be characterized as unusual or bizarre. After the jury rendered its verdict, Orr ...

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