Former Maryland official guilty of embezzlement Conviction for fraud is Robinson's second

August 15, 1996|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

A former Maryland economic development official already convicted once of fraud pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to embezzling more than $500,000 from investors, including a ministers' group.

David M. Robinson, 46, likely will receive a prison sentence of three to six years without parole under federal guidelines when he is sentenced Oct. 18 before U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson.

Robinson served a year in a work-release program after a 1989 conviction for defrauding businesses of more than $70,000 while he was an official with the Maryland Department of Economic Development.

The latest charges of mail and wire fraud against Robinson arose from the theft of money from a financial advisory business and from a nonprofit group called The Ministers' Roundtable.

Financial Diversified Services was founded in 1992 by the Rev. Morris Vickers to provide financial planning and to offer retirement plans to ministers and other employees of nonprofit organizations. According to the statement of facts filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jefferson M. Gray, Vickers brought Robinson into the organization as his partner because he believed he was a tax attorney who had experience in drafting retirement plans that would win approval from the Internal Revenue Service.

In fact, although Robinson had graduated from the University of Maryland law school, he failed the bar exam several times and never was admitted to the Maryland Bar. Vickers was unaware of this and Robinson's earlier fraud conviction.

Between fall 1993 and summer 1994, Robinson diverted to himself $330,000 from Financial Diversified Services.

In a related scheme, Robinson persuaded an interfaith group of Baltimore ministers called The Ministers' Roundtable to form a nonprofit corporation in fall 1992. He then persuaded Vickers and other investors to lend money to the ministers' group, which would then be reinvested at higher rates of interest.

Robinson also diverted to himself more than $200,000 from International Investment Consortium Inc., which took money from investors to buy rundown houses in Baltimore, renovate them and resell them at a profit.

Robinson also faces sentencing in October on another federal mail fraud conviction for accepting a $25,000 payment from an Anne Arundel County couple to represent them in a challenge to a tax assessment before the U.S. Tax Court in Washington.

Pub Date: 8/15/96

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