Mary Mason's grandson again talking plea deal in theft case

Charged with looting the life savings of his grandmother, legendary Philadelphia radio host Mary Mason, Calvin Steven Turner IV had nothing to say Tuesday after he bolted from a Norristown courtroom after a brief pretrial hearing.

But both his lawyer, Martin P. Mullaney, and Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Christopher Daniels  said the possibility of a plea deal was back on the table, which would relieve Turner from having to stand trial in the case.

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Calvin S. Turner IV, grandson and heir of radio icon Mary Mason, exits the courtroom at the Montgomery County Courthouse on Tuesday. Turner is charged with 306 counts of theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, unlawful use of an electronic access device, and identity theft. ( JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer )

The development comes more than three months after Turner, 34, balked at pleading guilty after first indicating that he would take a deal.

“We’re negotiating, trying to resolve it, trying to work on the dollar figures” of the amount allegedly stolen, Mullaney said in an interview. He said the agreement “will be significantly different than originally thought. I think that the dollar figures are going to drop from the million-dollar range down to below one hundred thousand.”

Mullaney said he hoped a deal would spare Turner from prison. Much of the money his client is accused of stealing, Mullaney suggested, was used to help Mason, 87, who has dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and is being cared for in a nursing home.

“We think that the dollars he spent helping Mary Mason during her life were legitimate dollars, significant dollars,” the lawyer said. “Therefore he did not steal the money. He spent it on Mary Mason.”

Daniels declined to discuss a pending agreement, noting that a previous deal collapsed in October. “We thought we had an agreement months ago,” he said. “Then that broke down, and we’re continuing discussions, hopefully for a nontrial disposition, but that’s not a guarantee.”

Turner, the son of Mason’s late son, is accused of blowing through $843,000 of her money after he gained power of attorney over her personal finances about five years ago. Prosecutors allege that he spent the money on starting a real estate company and on liquor, food, and trips to Las Vegas strip clubs. He remains free on $20,000 bail.

Mason spent more than 50 years on Philadelphia talk-show airwaves, along the way becoming a respected and influential figure in civic and political circles.

The next court hearing in the case will be in March, although Judge Richard P. Haaz has not set a date.