A former state tax official has pleaded guilty to bribery and two other charges in connection with a scheme in which he illegally lowered the tax liabilities of several businesses, according to the Maryland attorney general's office.
Gary C. Fisher of Pasadena is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 24 by Baltimore Circuit Court Judge John Carroll Byrnes. State prosecutors are recommending that Fisher receive a 15-year prison term and repay $25,000 in bribes.
Fisher, 38, accepted bribes ranging from $200 to $20,000 and totaling about $25,000, according to a statement of facts presented during a court hearing yesterday.
In return for the bribes, Fisher wiped out more than $270,000 in taxes owed to the state by various businesses.
Fisher was suspended from his duties in the sales and use tax division of the state comptroller's office in September 1989. A grand jury indicted him last month.
The case came to light last year, when one of Fisher's fellow employees saw him at a Perry Hall pizza parlor. Suspicious of Fisher's presence at the restaurant, the employee checked the division's records and found that Fisher had recently reduced the restaurant's tax bills by $12,000.
The state will not bring bribery charges against businesses involved with Fisher, according to Assistant Attorney General Carolyn H. Henneman. State law grants immunity to people who testify before a grand jury in bribery cases, which the business owners did in this case.
The state, however, will go back and make sure the businesses pay all the taxes they owed before Fisher altered state records. ++ "No one is going to get away with it, at least not monetarily," Henneman said.
Fisher pleaded guilty to bribery, misconduct in office and falsification of public records. The maximum penalty for bribery is 12 years in prison. For falsification of public records it is three years. There is no maximum penalty for misconduct in office; a judge can impose any sentence as long as it is not considered cruel and unusual.
Fisher reduced tax liabilities for at least nine businesses, including seven restaurants, a glass and mirror supply shop, and an amusements company.