Generous contributor admits to bank fraud and tax charges Former trucking chief strikes plea bargain

March 18, 1997|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Brian H. Davis, the Baltimore trucking company owner whose lavish campaign contributions bought him entry into Maryland's highest political circles, admitted his guilt yesterday in an elaborate $2 million fraud involving forgery, falsified tax documents and bribery of a bank officer.

As part of a bargain with federal prosecutors, the former president of Oceanic Ltd. entered guilty pleas to one count of tax evasion and one count of bank fraud included in a 17-count indictment handed up in U.S. District Court in December.

Davis, 40, pledged as part of the agreement to cooperate with prosecutors in a continuing investigation that apparently will focus on Oceanic's dealings with the Bank of Glen Burnie.

Rumors that Davis has agreed to become a witness have created a stir in Maryland government circles because of his extensive contacts with state political figures.

Between 1991 and late 1995, when creditors forced Oceanic into involuntary bankruptcy, Davis donated at least $252,227 to Maryland and federal political candidates -- much of it in violation of state election laws. Most of those violations cannot be prosecuted because the two-year statute of limitations expired before they were uncovered.

In a deep, quiet voice, Davis entered his guilty plea during a brief hearing yesterday afternoon before U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis.

Dale Kelberman, the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case, told the court that Davis had engaged in a two-year-long scheme to defraud lenders by using duplicate titles to take out multiple loans using the same truck as collateral.

Kelberman said Davis also provided phony tax information in order to obtain loans, some of which he converted to personal use by forging the signatures of officials of the company that sold him his trucks. Davis has previously admitted that some of the loan proceeds went toward campaign contributions.

Although it was not spelled out in the indictment, Davis also admitted to paying bribes to a bank officer in the form of sports memorabilia, sports tickets and expensive vacations, Kelberman said.

The prosecutor said this "corrupt relationship" allowed Davis to receive fraudulent loans through friends and employees after he had reached the federal limit on a bank's loans to a single customer. In an apparent reference to the Bank of Glen Burnie, Kelberman said the institution had to write off $4.5 million in bad loans to Davis.

The U.S. attorney's office did not disclose the name of the bank officer, but filings in a civil case involving the bank have identified him as Stephen G. Boyd, who is no longer employed there.

Technically, Davis faces a maximum 30-year term for bank fraud and a five-year term on the tax evasion count. But under federal sentencing guidelines, he would be eligible for a sentence of four to 5 1/2 years, with no parole, if he cooperates effectively with prosecutors. Sentencing was set for June 10.

The U.S. attorney's office can recommend that the judge impose a sentence greater or less than the guidelines, but the judge is not bound by either the recommendations or the guidelines.

Pub Date: 3/18/97

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