Man on trial in property scheme to post bails

He is accused of perjury in claims to secure bonds

December 11, 2003|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

The trial began yesterday for a Baltimore man who authorities say took advantage of several loopholes in the state's bail system by contriving an elaborate scheme to fraudulently bail people out of jail by pledging properties he didn't own.

Eddie C. Wilson, 45, is charged with 11 counts of perjury in the forging of documents to illegally post the property for bail bonds. One of the properties he used as bail did not exist, according to documents filed in Baltimore Circuit Court.

Prosecutors say Wilson posted almost $50,000 in false property bonds to bail out 11 defendants charged with crimes ranging from drug possession to assault. At least one defendant jumped bail. After being arrested, defendants can bail out of jail using several methods: cash, a credit card, a bail bondsman or by posting a property.

Wilson, who fired his lawyer this week, is representing himself. He has been jailed since January on $800,000 bail. A note in his court file reads: "No property can be used for bail release."

He told the jury that he would not disagree with much of the state's case. He also said that the scheme was harmless.

"The loss ratio is zero," Wilson said. "No one here lost anything. There has not been one dime lost in this case."

Wilson is alleged to have obtained copies of tax records of homeowners and to have misused them to secure bail for defendants, court records say. The scheme went on from February to September last year.

Until recently, the court system had no way to check whether the person posting property as bail owned the property. The system also did not have a way to check whether a property has been posted as bail multiple times.

Prosecutor Elizabeth A. Ritter said in her opening statement that Wilson lied under oath and misrepresented himself. "The defendant didn't own any of the properties he said he did -- in one case the property didn't even exist," Ritter said. "The others were owned by private citizens who never knew their property was being posted."

Ritter said the scheme could have caused problems for the unsuspecting homeowners whose properties were posted as bail. For instance, if a defendant out on bail did not show up for a court date, the state could have put a lien on the property.

The state brought in as a witness Alvin Marvin, who said his home in the 3200 block of Harford Road was posted several times by Wilson. Marvin found out when he got a letter from the court saying that the defendant had jumped bail.

Some of the bail-system loopholes that authorities say Wilson exploited were detailed in a report released in October and ordered by Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell. A statewide task force is working to correct some of the problems.

Wilson, who has a bachelor's degree from Sojourner-Douglass College, could receive 10 years in prison for each count of perjury if convicted.

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