Man tied to Bromwell enters not-guilty plea

Stoffregen accused of trading favors

November 03, 2005|By MATTHEW DOLAN | MATTHEW DOLAN,SUN REPORTER

The one-time president of a Baltimore construction company pleaded not guilty in federal court yesterday to charges he illegally paid off a former state senator in exchange for the politician's help in obtaining contracts.

W. David Stoffregen, who ran Poole and Kent Co., a large plumbing and steam-fitting contractor, was charged last month by a federal grand jury in Baltimore.

He is accused of providing former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell and his wife with a lucrative, no-show job and off-the-books construction work on their Baltimore County home in exchange for Bromwell's help in persuading public agencies and private developers to award millions of dollars' worth of contracts to Poole and Kent.

Yesterday, the defense and prosecution wrangled over whether prosecutors had improperly seized thousands of dollars that Stoffregen allegedly received illegally.

Barry Levine, a defense attorney from Washington, blocked a plan by federal agents to enter Stoffregen's home today to inventory its contents.

In an interview last night, Levine said that agents will not be able to enter Stoffregen's Towson home until after the judge in the case rules this month on whether the asset seizure was legal.

"I believe that the seizure was unlawful," Levine said, adding that his client's frozen bank accounts have left him unable to pay his bills.

Bromwell remains the president and chief executive officer of the Maryland Injured Workers' Insurance Fund, a quasi-public agency. Stoffregen, 52, was fired from Poole and Kent in March and is unemployed, Levine said.

"He gets fired, and he's left without any funds to defend himself," Levine said.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz will hold a hearing on the forfeiture issue Nov. 18.

Next week, the judge plans to take up the Bromwells' request that the government return the items it seized during a search of their Baltimore County home last week. The Bromwells pleaded not guilty during a joint court appearance Monday.

The 80-page indictment released last month alleges that Mary Patricia Bromwell was paid a salary for a fake job at a company controlled by Stoffregen. Stoffregen also arranged for some $85,000 worth of discounted work to be done at the Bromwell home, according to the indictment.

Charges against Stoffregen include racketeering, mail fraud, witness tampering and extortion. He was released on his own recognizance pending a jury trial that is expected to last three months. The trial, which will include the Bromwells, is scheduled to begin Feb. 5, 2007.

The court appearances this week were held after prosecutors secured guilty pleas from three other defendants who agreed to cooperate against the Bromwells. Geraldine and Michael Forti pleaded guilty to a fraud charge earlier this month.

They are accused of helping Poole and Kent prop up a subcontractor known as Namco. The minority business gave Poole and Kent, its parent company, an edge in getting government contracts, prosecutors said. Mary Pat Bromwell was paid by Namco, but her job there was fictitious, according to prosecutors.

David M. Jackman, a former project manager for a Baltimore construction company, admitted in federal court last week that he lied to investigators about discounted work done for the Bromwells.

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

For previous stories on the public corruption case, go to baltimoresun.com/bromwell.

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