Bromwell still on board of First Mariner Bancorp

March 22, 2007|By Matthew Dolan | Matthew Dolan,Sun reporter

Almost 1 1/2 years after his indictment on federal influence-peddling charges, former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell Sr. continues to serve on the board of directors of First Mariner Bancorp.

Edwin F. Hale Sr., the company's chief executive officer and chairman of the board, declined to answer a reporter's questions about Bromwell. But a Hale aide confirmed that the Baltimore County Democrat sits on the bank's 16-member board of directors.

His term expires April 24. The aide added that Bromwell would not stand for re-election when shareholders meet in May.

In court papers unsealed this week, Bromwell in 2001 boasted about his connections to Hale. He also bragged about his ability to assist an FBI informant posing as a shady contractor in opening an account at 1st Mariner Bank and depositing $500,000. The bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of First Mariner Bancorp.

Securities and Exchange Commission records show that Bromwell, 58, has served on the board since 2002 and holds 1,540 shares of stock in the bank.

Bank officials declined to answer additional questions about whether Bromwell was asked to leave the board and why he continued to serve despite his indictment. A message left for the bank's legal counsel was not returned yesterday.

Harvey J. Goldschmid, the Dwight Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and a former SEC commissioner, said banks would likely have to disclose the indictment in filings with the SEC but would not be required under law to remove an indicted director from its board.

But he added that "certainly for a bank, especially with all of its fiduciary responsibilities with safety and soundness, one would think they would be awfully careful before allowing someone who has been indicted to continue to serve."

Critics raised concerns when Bromwell was able to keep his job as president of the state's largest insurance fund for injured public employees. He left the Maryland Injured Workers' Insurance Fund in December with a $400,000 severance package.

Hale is also chairman of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association board and was recently appointed by the city to manage the Clarence Du Burns Arena. Hale, 59, owns the Baltimore Blast professional soccer team. His development company is building Canton Crossing complex, which will bring 500 condominiums, a second office building (in addition to his bank's headquarters tower), two hotels, and shops and restaurants to Canton's waterfront.

First Mariner Bancorp was founded in 1995. It has total assets of $1.3 billion. There are 25 1st Mariner Bank branches in Central Maryland and on the Eastern Shore.

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Jill Rosen contributed to this article.

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