Aron ranked spouse first hit, tape shows

The undercover police detective Ruthann Aron thought was a hit man testified yesterday that one day after the former U.S. Senate candidate arranged to have him kill a Baltimore lawyer, she called back to add her husband’s name to the list.

Detective Terry Ryan said in Montgomery County Circuit Court that Mrs. Aron, 55, made it perfectly clear in the June 8 conversation that she wanted her husband, Dr. Barry Aron, killed as well.

“These are two jobs?” Detective Ryan is heard saying on tape recording No. 12 of conversations with Mrs. Aron.

“If I couldn’t get it done, I’d do it myself,” a female voice responds.

Then, Detective Ryan asks for a name and the female voice spells it out: “A, like apple, R, O, N” and first name, “B, like boy, A, R, R, Y.”

“Which one first?” Detective Ryan is heard to ask.

A long pause, then the answer, “Second one first.”

In another tape, the undercover officer asks, “What’s this guy look like?

Between long pauses, the female voice says, “Glasses, uh . . . 55 . . . uh, gray hair . . . uh, 5-foot-9 . . . 150 pounds.”

Most of the day was taken up by Detective Ryan’s account of his conversations with Mrs. Aron and playing of tapes.

“I want you to know that once it’s dropped . . .” the undercover officer said, before the female voice interjects, “It’s gone,” and he concludes, “It’s dead.”

Detective Ryan said they had agreed on $10,000 plus expenses for each hit. Mrs. Aron was to pay the balance two weeks after the victims’ obituaries were published, he said.

Officer Bob Angelino and hotel manager Scott Frothingham described a woman with a floppy brimmed white hat, dark glasses, maybe an auburn wig and a long khaki trench coat – odd for an 82-degree day – deliver the package containing $500 to the Courtyard Marriott about 11:15 a.m. June 9.

Mr. Frothingham testified that a woman approached him and asked him to take a brown envelope marked “Universal Systems” to the front desk.

He was struggling with guest bags and asked her politely if she could do it, but she insisted and slipped him a $1 tip.

The envelope contained the down payment, testified Officer Angelino, who was working undercover in the hotel lobby and saw a woman fitting the description enter the hotel lobby and leave quickly, without leaving anything at the desk.

Police arrested Mrs. Aron about six hours later while using a pay phone at a Rockville hotel.

At the time, the millionaire developer from Potomac was a member of the Montgomery County Planning Board. The board removed her from the influential post in August.

Defense attorney Barry Helfand opened the third day of testimony by continuing to ask why Rockville businessman William H. Mossburg Jr. was the middleman, suggesting he was motivated by his distrust of county government, which Mr. Mossburg claims destroyed his trash and recycling business.

Twice, Mr. Helfand asked witnesses about police review of a fire that resulted in the closing of Mr. Mossburg’s tavern several years ago. Deputy State’s Attorney I. Matthew Campbell objected, and Circuit Judge Paul A. McGuckian ruled the questions were irrelevant to Mrs. Aron’s trial.

Although tape recordings and witnesses testified Mrs. Aron called Mr. Mossburg repeatedly, she is heard telling Detective Ryan, “If [Mr. Mossburg] asks me what’s going on, I’ll tell him I dropped it.”

But in another tape, Mr. Mossburg, by then referring to Mrs. Aron by the alias “Sam,” says, “I don’t trust the government at all,” and Mrs. Aron says, “You know, we’re kindred spirits.”

Mr. Mossburg is recorded as saying “there are all those crooked judges,” and Mrs. Aron says, “They still are.” Gales of laughter rippled through the courtroom, and Judge McGuckian looked bemusedly at the witness and lawyers.

Mr. Mossburg’s son, Mathew, a Republican member of the Maryland House of Delegates, testified his father told him of Mrs. Aron’s plan. He said he advised his father to call police right away, and the FBI.

Under cross-examination, Mathew Mossburg said he supported Mrs. Aron in 1994 as she campaigned for the U.S. Senate against William Brock III. She lost the election. Mr. Kahn testified against her in her subsequent slander suit against Mr. Brock.

Mrs. Aron has pleaded not criminally responsible – the equivalent in Maryland to an insanity defense – to charges of soliciting a hit man.