Two years after federal authorities began investigating a former state senator and a Baltimore construction company that received high-profile state jobs, one of the firm's former partners has been charged with mail fraud and tax evasion in U.S. District Court.
The charges stem from a broader grand jury investigation of Poole and Kent Co. and its connection to former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, who once chaired the Senate Finance Committee and resigned his seat in 2002 to become head of the state's Injured Workers Insurance Fund.
Michael C. Forti, who was an executive with Poole and Kent Co., was charged this week with mail fraud and lying on his taxes. His wife, Geraldine, also was charged with tax evasion. Efforts to reach the couple and their attorneys last night were unsuccessful.
Federal prosecutors accused the Fortis with lying about their income five years ago. They reported earnings of $1,093,780 in 2000, but authorities said in court papers that the real amount was higher.
Michael Forti "did knowingly and willfully devise and intend to devise a scheme ... to defraud various governmental and private entities" through mail fraud, court documents allege. He is charged with illegally mailing a $1,275.12 check dated March 6, 2003, from Namco Services Corp. and made out to the Carpenters' Benefit Fund.
No court appearance has been set for the couple.
The charges came in documents known as criminal information. Often less descriptive than grand jury indictments and criminal complaints, the document can signal that guilty pleas are likely.
The U.S. attorney's office in Baltimore refused to comment on the charges yesterday. An attorney for Bromwell said no criminal charges have been brought against his client.
"We really have no comment," said attorney Robert B. Schulman. "But I've seen the charges, and nowhere do they mention Mr. Bromwell."
State records show that Bromwell's wife, Mary Pat Bromwell, has been employed by Namco. Formed by Geraldine Forti, Namco was a subcontractor on the construction of the state juvenile justice center that opened last year in Baltimore, a project troubled by cost overruns and other problems.
Poole and Kent has received millions of dollars in state contracts, and in 1999 won a $41 million contract to build the juvenile justice center over the objections of a company that had bid $1 million less.
Poole and Kent, which specializes in large commercial projects, also installed the plumbing and ventilation systems in Bromwell's half-million-dollar Baltimore County home. Bromwell belatedly listed a debt to the firm in a 2002 financial disclosure statement filed with the State Ethics Commission.
In April 2004, Poole and Kent received a target letter from federal investigators notifying company officials that they were the subject of an investigation. Poole and Kent was headed by W. David Stoffregen, a longtime friend of Bromwell's and a contributor to his campaign committee. A company official said yesterday that Stoffregen left the company in March.
Adam E. Snavely, Poole and Kent's executive vice president, declined to comment yesterday.