"He's a very likable person; Billy is Billy . . . he's a free spirit type of person," said Senator Jim Simpson, a friend for 15 years. "He'd give you the shirt off his back. He's always smiling," said Mike Sprague, who told Carlson that he thought the Hattie Carroll case had been distorted by the media, and by Bob Dylan's song: "They made it sound like he was Rhett Butler, riding around on a white horse with a whip. He was just an unfortunate victim of his times, because in the '60s, with integration going on, that played well." One other thing caused Sprague to laugh - the fact that Carlson pointed out to him that William Zantzinger's name was frequently to be found in the local newspapers, in the lists of local residents who didn't pay their property taxes. "Billy has been toasted for delinquent property taxes just about every year," Sprague told Carlson, "but there are five pages of people who do that - Billy just happens to be one of them."
However, on April 24, 1991, a front-page story in the Maryland Independent written by reporter Kristi Hempel, revealed that though Zantzinger had been regularly collecting rents on some beat-up old wooden shacks in Patuxent Woods which were homes to several negro families, he hadn't actually owned them since 1986, when the county had foreclosed on him because of his failure to pay his property taxes. Indeed, not only had Zantzinger continued to collect rents for the next five years, he'd actually raised the rents to $200 per month, despite the fact that the hovels had no running water, no toilets and no heating; Zantzinger had even, in the Spring of 1991, taken one tenant, John Savoy, a 61-year-old negro who lived on welfare, to court for non-payment of his rents. And Zantzinger had won the case, the court ordering the hapless Savoy to pay his supposed landlord $240...
On January 3, 1992, William Zantzinger was sentenced to 18 months in the county jail and fined $50,000. The fine was no problem, of course, and Circuit Court Judge Steven I. Platt recommended that corrections officials allow Zantzinger to serve his sentence in a work-release programme, working outside during the day, but spending his nights in jail. Platt also sentenced Zantzinger to 2,400 hours of community service, spread over 300 days during the five years following his release (probably in nine months' time) for local groups that advocate low-cost housing.
"I never intended to hurt anyone, ever, ever," Zantzinger said, pleading for leniency; "it's not my nature."
"Mr Zantzinger, I wish you the best of luck," said the judge, as Zantzinger was led away in handcuffs.
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