Contractor fined in Annapolis bribery Payoffs to city housing, academy officials bring suspended jail term.

May 17, 1991|By Kelly Gilbert | Kelly Gilbert,Evening Sun Staff

Annapolis contractor Carroll R. Dunton has been fined $25,000 and sentenced to six months in a halfway house for bribing an Annapolis housing official and a Naval Academy public works officer in return for lucrative federal construction contracts.

Judge John R. Hargrove also imposed three years of probation on Dunton on a suspended prison sentence yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Dunton, 65, an owner of Dunton Contracting Co., bribed Arthur G. Strissel Jr., former executive director of the Annapolis Housing Authority, with custom plumbing and other items for his home, and gave numerous illegal gratuities to Navy Capt. James E. Weston at the academy in 1986 and 1987.

The contractor pleaded guilty to felony charges in both cases last year.

"I would give anything to be able to change the things I've done, but I can't," Dunton said. "I've ruined the business I worked hard to build, I've hurt my family, and my brother's family, and my sister's family. I want to apologize to all of them."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane F. Barrett said Dunton provided key prosecution testimony against Weston "but he came in three years late to cooperate," long after he had obstructed justice by lying to the grand jury that investigated Strissel.

Barrett, who prosecuted Strissel and Weston, said Dunton was involved in a "pattern of activity" that included "greedy, corrupt officials and greedy, corrupt contractors willing to play the game.

"If we didn't have the Westons and Strissels of the world, we wouldn't have these kinds of crimes," she said. "But you have to have contractors who have their hands out to make them work."

Defense attorneys Allen Schwait and Thomas P. O'Neill 3rd said Dunton was a victim of the public officials' greed.

O'Neill said Dunton was "motivated by absolute fear" of losing contracts when he bribed Strissel and Weston.

"If Mr. Dunton had said 'no,' Captain Weston would have sought out someone else with a soft belly, and the crimes would have gone on anyway," O'Neill said.

"There was greed on both sides," said the judge.

He told Dunton, "You weren't exactly innocent. You made some money out of it."

Strissel is serving a 10-year prison term on his 1988 convictions on charges of racketeering, bribery and wire fraud. Weston, convicted of conspiracy, bribery and obstruction-of-justice charges here May 3, is awaiting sentencing.

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