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Carrying on the lawyerly legacy at Rudow Law Group

William M. Rudow has no shortage of work these days.

Lawyers William M. Rudow (left) and David Rudow, William’s father, display a painting of Harry Adelberg, who in 1927 founded Adelberg Rudow Dorf & Hendler LLC. Adelberg, who died in 1990, was William’s grandfather and David’s father-in-law.

Rudow, 50, founder of Rudow Law Group LLC in Baltimore, is chasing down brokers who are underwriting fraud and faking documents, title companies that are making disbursements under the table and appraisers who are over-inflating home values, sometimes by twice their true worth.

With the housing market in disarray, Rudow, whose practice focuses on mortgage fraud recovery, has cases pending in California, Missouri, Michigan, New York, Florida, Georgia and Minnesota.

“It’s all over the place,” he said of mortgage fraud in a phone interview Thursday.

But, as the son and grandson of two accomplished Baltimore lawyers, overcoming long hours and lots of paperwork are in Rudow’s blood.

Rudow’s grandfather was Harry Adelberg, who founded Adelberg Rudow Dorf & Hendler LLC in 1927. His father is David B. Rudow, a partner in the firm who married Adelberg’s daughter and, at 77, still practices.

“I get plenty of time to play golf and go fishing and do the other things,” David Rudow said. “But we have great clients in the practice, and as long as it’s fun and as long as my health allows it, I’d like to continue.”

Adelberg practiced until 1990, when he died at age 84. He rose to prominence on the local legal scene in the late 1930s, when he defended Italian immigrant Aurelio Marco Tarquinio in the infamous “Torso Murder Case.”

Tarquinio was convicted of killing his housekeeper, then dismembering her body and leaving pieces of it in sewers and dumps, wrapped in newspaper. But Adelberg’s legal work spared Tarquinio the death penalty. Instead, he served 15½ years before he was paroled from the Maryland Penitentiary in Baltimore.

According to an Associated Press brief printed at the time, Tarquinio pleaded innocent by reason of insanity.

“The man must have been crazy to do something like that,” David Rudow said.

David Rudow himself has been involved in high-profile cases. In the early 1970s, he argued on behalf of J.J. Brill Co., a supermarket on Pennsylvania Avenue, for an injunction against the Black Panther Party, which Rudow said was “shaking down businesses to give them $500 or $800 a week.”

David Rudow said his client had agreed to donate food but not money, and the Panthers responded by picketing the business and sometimes pulling customers out forcibly. He got the injunction, but at some cost to his sense of security. The riots that broke out in 1968 were still fresh in the minds of Baltimoreans.

“Every night when I turned the key to my car, I didn’t know what was going to happen,” David Rudow said.

That case made an impression on young William Rudow, who wrote reports on it in high school.

“I saw photographs of that and they had Black Panthers literally putting snakes on door handles” of the market, he said Thursday.

Rudow’s cases may not grab headlines like those of his father and grandfather, but he’s been no less prolific. Rudow said his practice has handled 72 cases against 623 defendants involving 233 loans since 1999 — including a 110-defendant case in Detroit.

His firm is well-established, and he said he owes a lot to his father.

“My father is an outstanding attorney and he always gives good advice,” William Rudow said. “Not only on legal issues but also on running an office.”

William isn’t the only Rudow at Rudow Law Group. His wife, Gillian Nancy Rudow, was an attorney with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development before joining the firm in 2000.

They have a daughter, Alexandra, at Hamilton College in upstate New York and a son, Michael, who is a senior at Friends School of Baltimore. Neither has expressed interest in a law career.

“No, not at this point, although both of them would be spectacular attorneys if they chose to do so,” William Rudow said. “They certainly have been brought up in an atmosphere of knowing how to argue.”