Former Md. employee imprisoned

July 07, 2005|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

A Rockville man was sentenced to a year in prison yesterday for taking bribes from a company that paid off state workers to buy its janitorial products at exorbitant prices.

The sentence was the stiffest in the state attorney general's months-long investigation of corrupt dealing between public employees and Stone Cold Chemicals.

Anthony Bruce, 62, pleaded guilty in May in Montgomery County Circuit Court to bribery and procurement fraud. According to prosecutors, the former employee of the State Highway Administration was the state's single largest purchaser of maintenance and janitorial supplies from Stone Cold -- a company implicated in bribery and other questionable transactions with government workers in several states.

Bruce's purchases, charged on his state credit card, came to $73,189, prosecutors said.

In return for doing business with the company, Bruce admitted, he received 34 bribes worth $4,300 -- many of them in the form of gift certificates from such chains as Wal-Mart, Bass Pro Shops, Outback Steakhouse and Men's Warehouse. Other gifts included Hershey's chocolates and a Fossil watch, prosecutors said.

Bruce's sentencing leaves one more penalty to be decided as the probe of Stone Cold winds down. Lucinda Nasario-Easley of Largo, a former employee at the SHA's Upper Marlboro maintenance shop, is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Kevin Enright, a spokesman for Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., said the investigation is continuing but is at the stage of "tying up loose ends." Seven former state employees were charged with bribery, and in some cases other counts, as a result of the probe. All have pleaded guilty.

Bruce, who worked at the SHA's Fairland maintenance shop in Montgomery County from 2001 to 2003, was charged with buying the Stone Cold products at prices far above the market rate -- for example, paying $28.50 for a can of wasp spray worth $3 a can.

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