Fraud case dispute grows

Further doubt cast on Bromwell's wife's job

July 19, 2006|By MATTHEW DOLAN | MATTHEW DOLAN,SUN REPORTER

A day planner kept by the wife of former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell Sr. included entries that show she knew little about a construction company job for which she received $80,000 a year, the federal prosecutors alleged in court papers unveiled yesterday.

Mary Patricia Bromwell's job at Namco Services Corp. was a no-show position, prosecutors say. It was arranged by Poole and Kent President W. David Stoffregen and designed to allow the construction company executive to bribe the Bromwells in return for Bromwell's political influence, according to an 80-page federal indictment filed last fall.

"Mrs. Bromwell's day planner contains numerous references to her association with her co-conspirators, including notes evidencing that she had no understanding of the details of her claimed employment with Namco, and that she required Geraldine Forti's help to get her cover story straight," Kathleen O. Gavin and Michael J. Leotta, assistant U.S. attorneys, wrote in the court papers.

Forti had been Namco's chief executive officer.

Bromwell was once a top-ranking Democrat in Annapolis and remains head of the state's worker's compensation insurance fund. He faces accusations that he cashed in the power of his office to line his pockets.

The court papers were filed in opposition to a motion by Bromwell's attorneys to dismiss the indictment and quash a search of the couple's Baltimore County home. A hearing on the issue is scheduled Sept. 8.

In court papers disclosed yesterday, prosecutors backed up their claims with a copy of a day planner page that includes the heading "Gerri." Underneath was written: "When was I hired? How long did I work there? What jobs?"

In other entries, prosecutors said, Mrs. Bromwell appeared to list questions about the looming indictment against her, which was unsealed in October 2005.

"Grand jury? When will it hit? Will they talk to me? Attorney? House/phone bugged?"

An attorney for Mrs. Bromwell said yesterday that there is a simple, lawful explanation for the entry about employment questions.

"But I'm not going to respond in the press," defense attorney Gerard Martin said. "My client has a perfectly logical explanation, and we'll make it at trial."

Joshua Treem, an attorney for the former senator, said his office had not received the prosecutors' latest court filings.

In those papers, prosecutors buttressed their claims by including a copy of Mrs. Bromwell's resume, which contains no listing of her Namco job.

The indictment takes a tough stance toward the former senator's wife, who is charged with 11 counts, including racketeering, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. The charges portray her as playing an active role in the alleged illegal activity.

She is accused of posing as chief operating officer of the subcontractor Namco during a June 2003 meeting at which officials of the Maryland Aviation Administration tried to determine whether the company was still a legitimate female-controlled enterprise.

Geraldine Forti pleaded guilty to a fraud in which Poole and Kent operated the company as a minority front that gave it an edge in getting government contracts. Her husband, Michael Forti, a former Poole and Kent executive, also pleaded guilty to fraud charges last fall.

According to the indictment, Stoffregen paid off Bromwell during the late 1990s and early 2000s in exchange for the senator's influence to assist the chief executive and his company.

In return, the indictment says, Poole and Kent did construction work valued at more than $85,000 at Bromwell's home in Baltimore County. The labor and materials were provided by Stoffregen free or at a reduced cost.

Mrs. Bromwell received $192,000 in payments from January 2001 to May 2003 for what prosecutors contend was a no-show job at female-owned Namco, which qualified as a minority contractor.

Geraldine Forti decided in the spring of 1999 that she wanted to close Namco, but Stoffregen did not want to lose the ability to use Namco because it met female ownership and minority contracting requirements for its governmental projects.

Other new details show that investigators searched the Bromwells' home in hopes of finding evidence to confirm whether Stoffregen paid for the couple's 2001 trip to Bermuda.

According to the new court papers, the Bromwells maintained a close relationship with construction executives, some of whom were later charged with bribing them. Stoffregen and the Fortis were among the people they invited to their daughter's graduation, prosecutors said.

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

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