Former talk show host Alan Christian, who attempted to build a radio empire with $678,000 from more than 800 investors, pleaded guilty today to fraudulent misappropriation of funds and the sale of unregistered securities.
Christian's associate in the venture, Grace Starmer, pleaded guilty to the same charges today before Baltimore Circuit Judge Edward J. Angeletti.
"I'm surprised you weren't charged with theft," the judge told Christian and Starmer.
Sentencing was scheduled for Nov. 30. Assistant Attorney General Christopher J. Romano said he will recommend a suspended sentence of 8 years with 6 months at a halfway house for Christian, and a suspended 8-year sentence with 9 months of house arrest for Starmer. They will be required to pay restitution.
The case involves the solicitation of investments in 1988 and 1989 for Atlantic Coast Radio Inc., a company formed by Christian after he was fired in June 1988 from WFBR radio in Baltimore. Some investors committed more than $10,000.
According to Assistant Attorney General Norman L. Smith, Christian and Starmer told investors in letters that he planned to buy radio stations and build a communications conglomerate that would include movie deals. Smith said that Christian's statements to investors about how he would use the money were not consistent with how the money was spent.
One letter from Starmer, dated Oct. 4, 1988, told "subscribers" that the company had surpassed its goal of raising $2.5 million, and ACR planned to purchase a local radio station, thanks to a "Maryland miracle . . . made possible by people like you."
Smith said the defendants failed to tell their investors that on the same day of the "Maryland miracle" letter, lawyers had informed Christian and Starmer that their solicitation violated both state and federal securities laws.
On Oct. 14, 1988, the defendants' lawyers warned that the violations were "serious and substantial," Smith said, but they continued to "invade" the company's escrow account to meet operating expenses.