Probe of Bromwell involves UM hospital

Medical system chief confirms focus on deal

Maryland

September 29, 2005|By MATTHEW DOLAN | MATTHEW DOLAN,SUN REPORTER

The president of the University of Maryland Medical System confirmed yesterday that authorities are investigating allegations that a former state senator improperly directed part of a $150 million hospital contract to a Baltimore construction company he preferred.

But Edmond F. Notebaert, president and chief executive of the medical system, said yesterday that the FBI assured his legal counsel that none of his employees, past or present, would be charged in the probe.

"We have done nothing wrong in this," he said.

Notebaert said his employees have cooperated fully with the investigation into former Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, providing documents and testifying before a grand jury. For more than two years, federal authorities have been investigating whether Bromwell had an improper relationship with Poole and Kent Co. and its role in securing multimillion-dollar local and state construction contracts.

Notebaert still views the downtown project - the University of Maryland Medical Center's Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Building, which opened in 2002 - as a success, including the mechanical work completed by Poole and Kent. The Baltimore-based company was a subcontractor for Turner Construction Co.

At least $83 million of the money for the project came from state funds, according to records.

Bromwell's attorney, Robert B. Schulman, said yesterday that his client denies any wrongdoing in the contract process.

Last week, Schulman said he expects Bromwell to be indicted by a grand jury for his connections to Poole and Kent. Schulman declined to speculate on what the charges might be.

This month, University of Maryland Medical System General Counsel Megan M. Arthur briefed the system's board of directors on the Bromwell probe.

But Notebaert disputed an account in yesterday's Washington Post that board members had been told this month that Bromwell pressured the university system to take the contract away from one firm and select Poole and Kent instead.

"I do not believe that there is any hard evidence to suggest that he controlled this process in that way," Notebaert said.

Notebaert's comments contradicted at least five of his board members, who reportedly told the Post that they heard accounts that Bromwell used "extraordinary pressure" to influence the process on Poole and Kent's behalf.

The medical system president said yesterday that he did not know whether federal authorities have concluded that Bromwell acted illegally.

Bromwell "wasn't a participant in the contract at all," Notebaert said.

Board member Leonard Stoler attended the meeting and said yesterday that he understood the investigation to center on Bromwell's influence over the Poole and Kent contract.

Several other board members, including chairman John C. Erickson, did not return calls for comment yesterday.

Bromwell served as a Baltimore County Democrat in Annapolis for years and was chairman of the powerful Finance Committee. He now heads the state Injured Workers Insurance Fund.

During his time in Annapolis, Bromwell kept his connections to Poole and Kent.

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

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