Attorneys argue over items from Bromwells

Defense in the corruption case says material wrongly seized

November 10, 2005|By MATTHEW DOLAN | MATTHEW DOLAN,SUN REPORTER

A personal diary. A framed Super Bowl XXXV ticket. Four identical 8-by-10-inch photographs of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller with two men now under federal indictment.

Those were among 37 items taken by federal investigators last month from the Baltimore County home of former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell Sr., who has been indicted as part of a wide-ranging public corruption investigation.

Defense lawyers argued in court yesterday that some of the items were seized improperly because they are protected by attorney-client privilege. Miller - who was not mentioned in the indictment - says he has no idea why the photographs would matter to prosecutors.

Bromwell and his wife, Mary Patricia, are accused of receiving a salary from a no-show job and discounted work done on their home. In exchange, the indictment says, Bromwell wielded his influence on public and private construction projects in and around Baltimore on behalf of a construction company, Poole and Kent.

The seized photos show Bromwell with Miller and W. David Stoffregen, the former Poole and Kent president who also has been charged with criminal conspiracy. According to court papers, FBI agents sought the photos to show evidence of "criminal enterprise" that included Bromwell and Stoffregen. Court papers do not include information about where or when the photo was taken.

An affidavit for the FBI search makes no mention of Miller. Reached yesterday, Miller said he had no idea why authorities would want a picture of him, adding that he has no recollection of meeting Stoffregen.

"I've been to every one of Senator Bromwell's fundraisers, and he's been to all of mine," Miller said. "Our legislative careers have been intertwined."

At yesterday's hearing, U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz ordered prosecutors to allow defense attorneys to review all of the items taken by the FBI. After the review, the defense attorneys can argue which specific objects should be returned to the Bromwells because the items contain protected lawyer-client communications.

Objects confiscated at the Bromwells' Ravenridge Road home in Baltimore County contain "confidential information and communication protected by the attorney-client privilege and the work-product privilege and not subject to any waiver of privilege," defense attorneys Robert B. Schulman, Joshua R. Treem and Gerard P. Martin wrote to the court on behalf of the Bromwells.

`Special master'

They asked the court to appoint a "special master" to review the material, especially the couple's computer hard drives, and decide which items prosecutors need to return.

Prosecutors Kathleen O. Gavin and Michael J. Leotta called the request a product of "late-blooming worries," arguing that one of the Bromwells' attorneys already agreed to have an independent prosecutor review the material.

The compromise fashioned by Motz allows for defense attorneys to review all of the items and designate for the court the ones they think should be excluded from the case and returned to the Bromwells. The initial review should be completed by mid-December and a final examination of the items completed by January, Motz ruled.

FBI agents obtained the search warrant Oct. 20 from a federal magistrate judge, a day after a grand jury indicted the Bromwells, who have pleaded not guilty.

Thomas Bromwell, who served in both legislative chambers as a Democrat from Baltimore County, remains the president and chief executive officer of the Maryland Injured Workers' Insurance Fund, a quasi-public agency. Stoffregen, who also has pleaded not guilty in the case, was fired from his position at Poole and Kent this year, company officials said.

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

The Bromwells' home included items "purchased by Poole and Kent, or provided free or at a discount by a company acting at the direction of Poole and Kent," FBI Special Agent Jeffrey R. Williams wrote in court papers justifying the search.

Agents needed to enter the home to take pictures of the home's plumbing, heating and air conditioning, bathrooms and kitchen to gather evidence, according to court papers.

Their search also would need to include personal memorabilia including photographs, collectibles, e-mail and letters to show that the Bromwells had a close relationship with other members of the "criminal conspiracy," Williams wrote.

Some of the items

On Oct. 27, agents seized those items plus invoices, mortgage documents and letters, court documents show. They also took the hard drives from computers and a laptop. Among the other items taken were Mary Patricia Bromwell's diary and resume, her and her husband's passports, computer disks and a ticket to Super Bowl XXXV - the Ravens' 34-7 win over the New York Giants in 2001.

Motz announced yesterday that he intends to have the case come to trial next fall, if possible.

But the judge also issued a warning in the high-profile case to the attorneys whose accusatory language in court papers has annoyed him.

"I expect a different atmosphere," Motz said. Though he might be smiling now, he warned, "all of a sudden, a hurricane will hit" if the lawyers in the case continue their sniping at each other.

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

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