Jury indicts ex-BDC official

As development officer, he is accused of extorting $5,000 from businessmen

E. Baltimore projects involved

Terry Dean was helping oversee renewal efforts at Holabird Park, Fayette St.

May 03, 2002|By Gail Gibson | Gail Gibson,SUN STAFF

A federal grand jury indicted a former Baltimore Development Corp. official yesterday on charges he extorted $5,000 last summer from businessmen involved in two city revitalization projects that he was helping to oversee.

Terry P. Dean, 46, a senior economic development officer with the BDC until earlier this year, is accused of soliciting and accepting two payments of $2,500 each from Baltimore businessmen who were negotiating financial assistance from the BDC, according to the indictment.

One project was at the Holabird Business Park in East Baltimore, authorities said. The other project was in the 900 block of E. Fayette St., part of a four-block corridor where the BDC has invested more than $3.5 million to create a downtown business park to attract new companies and jobs for city residents.

Top officials with the BDC, the city's quasi-public economic development arm, did not respond yesterday to requests for comment. City Solicitor Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr. said the agency and its president, M.J. "Jay" Brodie, had cooperated fully with federal investigators and moved swiftly to take action against what they determined to be an isolated problem.

"It saddens the Baltimore Development Corp.'s staff, but when Mr. Brodie was made aware of the circumstances, he made an investigation and quickly determined he had to terminate Mr. Dean," Zollicoffer said last night. "When things like this happen, it's always better to root it out immediately and move on."

Dean, who lives in the 4500 block of Springdale Ave. in Forest Park, could not be reached last night to comment. No date has been set for his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Federal authorities did not identify the businesses that allegedly were solicited for bribes. Holabird Park, the 25-year-old development park managed by the BDC, houses more than 40 businesses and manufacturing operations. In the 900 block of E. Fayette St., the BDC has helped fund a redevelopment project that will house a Chesapeake Advertising Inc. printing facility, among other tenants.

Chesapeake President Stephen Rogers and the project manager for the agency's new facility said yesterday they knew nothing about the federal investigation. Other businessmen involved with projects in the area also said they were surprised by the news of the FBI investigation.

"I know Terry, and I'm shocked," said Martin P. Azola, president of Banks Contracting Co., which has worked with BDC officials to redevelop the historic Hendler Creamery building in the 1100 block of E. Fayette St. "He just seems to be such a nice, hard-working, religious fellow."

Azola said he had worked closely with Dean and was puzzled when Dean abruptly left the development office earlier this year. "One day, he just wasn't working there anymore, and I didn't know why," Azola said. "Terry was very straightforward, honest, proactive. I never heard of anything like what you're talking about."

The four-count indictment handed down yesterday by a federal grand jury charges Dean with two counts of extortion under the color of office and two counts of accepting illegal gratuities in a federal program. Each extortion count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Dean is accused of soliciting and accepting the payments in August. According to state property records, that was a month before he and his wife purchased their 1,500- square-foot home in Forest Park for $108,000.

Zollicoffer said that Dean had worked at the BDC for several years. He said the federal investigation apparently was triggered by a complaint from one of the businessmen involved.

The Fayette Street corridor redevelopment has been a key city project since 1998, when the BDC announced plans to spend $3.5 million in economic development bond funds to purchase up to 71 properties along a four-block stretch, across the street from the main post office.

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