Balto. Co. firefighter pleads guilty to promoting pyramid game Man netted $8,250 in investment scheme

February 09, 1996|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County firefighter pleaded guilty yesterday to charges related to a pyramid game that netted him more than $8,000 -- the second conviction in a state probe of the once-popular get-rich-quick scheme.

Michael T. Mather, 36, an emergency medical technician in the Fullerton Fire Station since November 1992, pleaded guilty in Baltimore County Circuit Court to one count of establishment and promotion of a pyramid scheme.

Mr. Mather is one of three county firefighters charged Nov. 6 with organizing and promoting the scheme that sparked a yearlong investigation by the Maryland attorney general's office.

Michael Kevin Day, a fire specialist at the Fullerton Station, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and violating Maryland's pyramid law in December and will be sentenced March 19.

Lt. Michael S. Nace, also assigned to Fullerton, was charged with conspiracy, violating the pyramid law and evading $14,000 in state income taxes. His attorney said yesterday he will plead not guilty and stand trial March 4.

"Friends Helping Friends," which reached the height of its popularity in fall 1994, required each player to invest $1,500. Some received a $12,000 payoff after their pyramids added investors, but others lost money because their pyramids never grew enough to allow them to cash out.

According to a statement of facts added to the court file yesterday, Mr. Mather of Fallston told authorities he grossed $18,000 in the game and reinvested $9,750 for himself and friends.

He will be sentenced April 25. A letter from Assistant Attorney General Norman Smith to Mr. Mather's attorney states that prosecutors will recommend a one-year suspended sentence. Mr. Mather also will have to pay fines of $8,250, the amount he netted in the scheme, and serve five years' probation, according to the letter.

Neither Mr. Mather nor his attorney would comment.

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