Guilty plea entered in donor case

Businessman steered illegal cash to Cummings

June 07, 2000|By Gail Gibson | Gail Gibson,SUN STAFF

A Randallstown businessman accused of illegally steering $10,000 in campaign donations to Rep. Elijah E. Cummings through phony donors pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Walter Wallace E. Hill Jr. acknowledged that he asked employees at ECS Technologies - a computer hardware company with extensive government contracts - to write personal checks to Cummings' 1996 campaign, then reimbursed them with company money.

Hill, 49, a vice president and part owner of ECS, faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine for his role in the "straw donor" scheme. As part of a plea bargain worked out in February, federal prosecutors said they would recommend probation or home incarceration if Hill cooperates with investigators looking into political contribution schemes.

He is the third local businessman since December to face charges of improper campaign giving to Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat first elected to the House of Representatives in 1996.

In separate cases, Mark and Douglas Loizeaux, brothers who run a Baltimore County demolition company, and Baltimore demolition expert Pless B. Jones also face federal charges for allegedly masking illegal donations to Cummings' campaigns in 1996 and 1998. The three men each pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

Cummings faces no charges.

Federal campaign laws prohibit individuals from giving more than $1,000 to a candidate for a primary election and $1,000 for a general election.According to court papers, Hill asked nine employees at ECS to write $1,000 checks to Cummings' campaign in December 1995, as Cummings was gearing up for a special election in May 1996. The nine employees and Hill, who also wrote a $1,000 donation to the campaign Dec. 12, 1995, all were reimbursed with company money, court records show.

ECS, based on Canton Center Drive in Arbutus, also was charged with violating election laws. President EillenE. Dorsey appeared in court yesterday to enter a guilty plea on behalf of the company, which faces fines of up to $100,000 at sentencing Sept. 20.

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