Former public works employee pleads guilty to taking bribes

March 10, 1992|By Ann LoLordo | Ann LoLordo,Staff Writer

A former Baltimore public works employee pleaded guilty yesterday to bribery for accepting more than $185,000 in cash as well as vacation stays in Ocean City and fancy cowboy boots and hats in exchange for steering equipment contracts to several firms.

Floyd W. Dearborn, 64, of Fallston used his position in the Public Works Department between 1984 and 1991 to ensure that more than $1.5 million worth of city business went to International Harvester Co., its successors (Navistar International Corp. and Beltway International Trucks), Waddle Truck Equipment Inc. and several subcontractors, according to the facts of the case as presented in Baltimore Circuit Court.

The subcontractors were identified in court as Snyder Body Inc., owned at the time by James C. Snyder, and K & L Truck Equipment Co. Inc.

State prosecutor Thomas M. McDonough said International Harvester and its successors are not under investigation and the state's investigation focuses on a sales person, whom he declined to identify.

In exchange for steering business their way, Dearborn received cash, weeklong summer stays at the Carousel Hotel in Ocean City for six consecutive years, golf shirts, liquor, Western-style clothing, a car phone and other merchandise.

A city grand jury indicted Dearborn, a city employee for 12 years before his retirement in 1991, on the bribery charges in mid-February. As part of a plea agreement, he will "cooperate fully" with an ongoing city grand jury investigation into the awarding of millions of dollars worth of city contracts for the purchase of dump trucks, police paddy wagons, snow plows and other pieces of equipment, said Mr. McDonough.

Mr. McDonough said other indictments are expected later this year.

According to the state's case against Dearborn, the bid-rigging and bribery schemes occurred between 1984 and 1991. Dearborn tailored the specifications for the cabs and chassis of dump trucks and other utility trucks to fit the equipment sold by International Harvester or its successors.

As a result, International "was awarded virtually every contract" let by the city for a specific kind of dump truck.

Dearborn also required that trucks purchased by the city have a hydraulic system provided by DeHart Equipment Co. To meet the specifications, International had to hire the local distributor of the hydraulic system, Fallsway Spring and Equipment Co. But Dearborn later "used his influence" to persuade the DeHart firm to choose as its local distributor Snyder Body Inc. of Hampstead, court records said.

(Snyder Body was purchased in 1988 by Mark Snyder, a former Westminster councilman who says he has done no subsequent business with Dearborn or the city.)

A central figure in the state's investigation, Keith E. Graham of Westminster, was working for the Snyder company in 1984 when the change in distributors occurred. After Mr. Graham left the Snyder company in November 1986, he started his own firm, K & L Truck Equipment Co.

And the city business followed him.

Prosecutors alleged that Dearborn received from Mr. Graham $17,000 in bribes for a contract to repair 17 dump trucks. According to the state's case, Mr. Graham also alleged "paid kickbacks" to an unnamed salesman for International Harvester who handled the city contracts on which Mr.Graham's firm worked. Last month Mr. Graham's attorney, Michael Libowitz, said his client was aware of the state investigation but "hadn't done anything wrong."

In the second bribery scheme, Dearborn received $115,000 in cash from C. William Waddle, owner of Waddle Truck Equipment Inc. of Baltimore, in exchange for persuading several chassis firms to hire the Waddle company as their subcontractor. This scheme occurred between late 1985 until May 1991 and involved the purchase of police patrol wagons, trash trailers and two tow trucks. Mr. McDonough said Mr. Waddle, of Manchester, is cooperating with the state investigation and has agreed to pay $115,000 in restitution.

Dearborn will be sentenced Dec. 18 in Baltimore Circuit Court. In exchange for Dearborn's pleas of guilty on two bribery counts, the state prosecutor's office will recommend a one-year prison term, $5,000 fine and restitution to the city of $25,000, Mr. McDonough said.

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