Pair arrested in plot to get reward in bombing

November 03, 1994|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,Sun Staff Writer

Almost four years after a package bomb injured Washington County Circuit Judge John P. Corderman, two Jessup inmates are accused of hatching a plan to cash in on a $76,000 reward for information about the incident.

The alleged plan, uncovered by federal authorities, called for one of the men to act as an informant to federal investigators while the other would falsely take the blame for ordering the 1989 bombing and for planning a follow-up bombing for this summer.

Yesterday, the U.S. attorney disclosed that she had charged the pair.

Brad Allen Tate, 34, and Lynn Duane Hewitt, 42, have been charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and other counts in an indictment unsealed yesterday.

Mr. Tate was arrested Monday afternoon at an undisclosed location by Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms investigators and by postal inspectors. He was on probation after being released from the Maryland Correctional Institution at Jessup in November 1993. Prison officials refused to say what Mr. Tate had been serving time for.

Mr. Tate and Hewitt also are charged with maliciously conveying false information and 12 counts of mail fraud. Mr. Tate is charged with making false statements to a grand jury.

The men wanted a grand jury to indict Hewitt for the 1989 bombing so that Mr. Tate could collect the $76,000 reward and split it with Hewitt, according to the indictment and a statement from the U.S. attorney's office.

If convicted, the men face a maximum sentence on each count of five years' imprisonment without parole and a maximum fine of $250,000.

The men conceived their plan in the summer of 1993, officials said.

Hewitt is serving a life sentence, plus 35 years for first-degree murder, armed robbery and a handgun violation. He was sentenced in 1987 by Judge Corderman.

In the unrelated bombing on Dec. 22, 1989, a pipe bomb exploded in the judge's lap, shattering his eardrums and causing other injuries.

Federal authorities are still investigating the bombing but have not charged anyone.

Mr. Corderman, 52, opened a private law firm in Hagerstown after retiring from the bench in 1993.

"He's not available for comment," his wife, Ann Corderman, said yesterday.

Mr. Tate wrote six letters to Hewitt from November to March to gain information about Hewitt's fictitious involvement in the 1989 bombing and the plan for the May bombing, according to the indictment.

Hewitt wrote back four times from January to March, according to the indictment. Pretending to cooperate with the investigation, Mr. Tate gave Hewitt's letters to ATF and postal investigators.

But the alleged plan was uncovered when those investigators learned that Mr. Tate was writing secretly to Hewitt through another Jessup inmate.

These letters allegedly informed Hewitt about the scheme's progress.

In addition to writing fictitious letters, Mr. Tate lied to a grand jury investigating the bombing in April, according to the indictment.

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