City man guilty in bail scheme

He faces 110-year term after illegally posting property to secure bonds

December 12, 2003|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore man was found guilty yesterday of 11 counts of perjury in connection with an elaborate scheme in which prosecutors say he fraudulently bailed people out of jail by pledging properties he didn't own.

Eddie C. Wilson of the 5800 block of Royal Oak Ave., who fired his lawyer and represented himself during a two-day trial in city Circuit Court, gave a disjointed closing argument, causing many in the courtroom - including jurors - to stifle laughter.

Wilson compared himself to Jesus Christ and told the jury his hair had recently thinned because of stress. He spread his arms wide open, raised his voice and banged his fists on the trial table. When Judge John M. Glynn tried to interrupt him, he snapped at the judge: "Please hold!"

Wilson could be sentenced to up to 110 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 17.

It took the jury about 20 minutes to reach a verdict. Jurors said he did not represent himself well.

"Everything he brought up was irrelevant to the case," said juror Hazel Johnson.

Authorities say Wilson, 45, took advantage of several loopholes in the state's bail system by illegally posting property he did not own as bail bonds. One of the properties he used as bail did not exist, according to court documents. Prosecutors say Wilson posted almost $500,000 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 has been jailed since January on $800,000 bail. He 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.

Wilson's argument to the jury was that he had poor accounting skills and did not know which properties he owned and did not own. He said he did not intentionally post fraudulent property.

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 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.

Wilson also argued that his scheme was harmless.

"Nobody lost money in this," he told the jury. "Was anybody injured? No. The only one who was injured was me. Can we put this baby to rest?"

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