Baltimore roofing firm's owners get jail, fine for fraud in minority set-aside case

April 27, 1991|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Special to The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- Two owners of a Baltimore roofing company, convicted of lying about giving part of a state contract to minority businesses, were each sentenced yesterday to six months in jail and fined $15,000.

Assistant Attorney General Lynne A. Battaglia hailed the sentences imposed on the owners of F. A. Taylor & Son Inc. as a deterrent to future violations of Maryland's minority set-aside law for state contracts.

When Richard O. Taylor, 46, and his brother, David G. Taylor, 41, pleaded guilty to fraud in January, it was the first time a contractor had been convicted of failing to make a good-faith effort to hire minority-controlled firms as subcontractors.

In the past, Ms. Battaglia said, the state has won convictions against subcontractors who falsely claimed to be minority-controlled.

The Taylors and co-defendant Alfred L. Motlow Jr., president of Roofex Inc., a minority firm based in Takoma Park, were convicted after unsuccessfully challenging the constitutionality of a law that sets aside portions of state contracts for minority businesses.

Each was sentenced to four years in prison, with all but six months suspended, by Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Warren B. Duckett Jr. He said they could serve three months in the county jail on work-release and another three months on weekends. Motlow, 31, was fined $10,000.

Judge Duckett also said the men would be placed on five years' supervised probation after their release, and he ordered them to perform 100 hours of community service working to help minority businesses identify job opportunities and obtain bonding and financing.

The men had each faced a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

They and their companies were indicted in August 1989 on charges of stealing $85,000 from the state, conspiracy and submitting false documents in connection with a 1986 roofing repair contract at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

A statement of facts presented by Assistant Attorney General Ben C. Clyburn, counsel for the state Department of Transportation, said the Taylors won the bidding on the airport job but did not submit required forms explaining which part of the work would be done by minority firms.

When the second-lowest bidder protested, the Taylors' company was given 10 days to submit the forms, which named Roofex Inc. as a subcontractor.

But an investigation showed that Roofex was working on a job in Baltimore and did not perform the work at the airport, prosecutors said. The state also produced paperwork that they said showed attempts to cover up the fraud by falsely documenting that the airport work was done by Roofex.

During yesterday's hearing, both Taylors admitted they "panicked" when they realized Roofex's money problems would leave the company unable to do any work on the airport job.

But they denied prosecutors' contentions that they planned all along to defraud the state.

"We made a stupid mistake and we tried to cover it up," Richard Taylor said.

The friends who yesterday testified on the defendants' behalf included Thomas J. Bollinger, a District judge in Baltimore County, who described Richard Taylor as an otherwise honest businessman who did a "very stupid thing."

In asking the judge to give their clients probation before judgment, a sentence that would allow them to clear their records, defense lawyers said that as convicted felons the men would be unable to be bonded and their businesses would effectively be ruined.

But Mr. Clyburn asked the judge to jail the defendants, pointing to what he called the "greed" of the Taylors.

"They wanted to keep the $85,000," he said. "They didn't want to give any to the minority employer."

Mr. Clyburn also called Motlow "arrogant" in his disregard for the law.

Jay Apperson is a reporter for the Anne Arundel County Sun, a suburban edition of The Baltimore Sun.

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