Former aide accused of mail fraud knowledge

October 19, 2006|By Matthew Dolan | Matthew Dolan,Sun reporter

Federal prosecutors charged a former assistant to the president of a Baltimore construction company yesterday with failing to report a crime, a move linked to the prosecution of a former Baltimore County state senator.

Little information was available about Jeanie Ashfield-Testa after prosecutors discreetly filed a criminal information against her in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Court papers accuse Ashfield-Testa of knowing about mail fraud and failing to alert authorities to the crime.

"She routinely prepared false reimbursement expense reports at the direction and for the benefit of an officer of the Poole and Kent Corporation," the charging document said. Sources familiar with the investigation said that officer is W. David Stoffregen, Poole and Kent's former president.

Her attorney, William J. Murphy, declined to comment.

Unlike those indicted by a grand jury, those charged in federal court by criminal information usually cooperate with authorities and expect to plead guilty, according to lawyers familiar with the process.

Yesterday's news marks the fourth time a former Poole and Kent employee has been charged with felony stemming from the investigation into former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell.

"There were individuals who engaged in behavior that was inappropriate, and they will have to deal with the consequences in the legal system," Poole and Kent spokesman Robert A. Chlopak said yesterday. "The company, I think, has acted appropriately throughout the course of this investigation and cooperated and will do business again in Baltimore."

Poole and Kent is a well-known plumbing and steamfitting contractor that has won multimillion-dollar state and local projects, including the Ravens football stadium, a juvenile prison and a major airport terminal expansion.

The company's minority subcontracting problems were exposed a year ago when federal prosecutors charged Stoffregen with bribing Bromwell, a Baltimore County Democrat and once one of the most powerful politicians in Annapolis. Bromwell was indicted on charges of racketeering, mail fraud and extortion.

Both men pleaded not guilty, and their joint trial is scheduled to begin in February.

The indictment also accused Stoffregen of setting up Bromwell's wife in a no-show job at a female-owned subcontractor in exchange for the senator's influence. Namco, the subcontractor, was secretly controlled by Poole and Kent, prosecutors said.

In June, Poole and Kent, described in court papers as an unindicted co-conspirator in the public corruption case against Bromwell, agreed to pay the city of Baltimore more than $800,000 in fines after admitting it used a propped-up firm to win contracts designed for minority-run businesses.

Poole and Kent agreed not to bid for future city contracts until at least this month.

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