Union data seized in raid

ILA records, U.S. fugitive's property tied to bondsmen inquiry

August 22, 2008|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,Sun reporter

Internal Revenue Service agents seized financial, phone and business records this week associated with leading Baltimore bail bondsmen Milton Tillman Jr. and his son, Milton Tillman III, including records from a longshoremen's union at the Dundalk Marine Terminal, according to sources close to the investigation.

One of the seven buildings searched Monday is owned by Ioannis "Crazy John" Kafouros, a federal fugitive and convicted stolen-goods dealer, and his wife, Diana. Kafouros was last seen a decade ago in the Greek isles. Another building that authorities searched, a 1,440-square-foot concrete structure at a marine terminal pier, is leased by Ports America.

Members of the International Longshoremen's Association clock in and out and get jobs at the building, said Mark Montgomery, senior vice president of Ports America.

"The ILA's time records are kept in the building, and the authorities asked us to comply, and we allowed them to take some of those records," he said.

Tillman Jr. has been a repeated target of federal and state law enforcement, and was convicted years ago of bribery and tax evasion, but authorities have given no indication of what led to this week's raids.

"We don't have the search warrant affidavits yet, which would detail the allegations," said Steven A. Allen, defense attorney for Milton Tillman III, president of the family's bail bonds companies.

U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein and IRS special agent Thaddeous Miller, who obtained the warrants, declined to comment yesterday. Rosenstein said that the affidavits are under seal, and he said he could not say when that would change.

The elder Tillman is best known as the city's bail bonds king - he controls the vast majority of the business in the city by charging fees that his competitors complain are improperly discounted. Last year, Tillman was cleared on charges that he and his licensed bondsmen illegally "double-posted" properties to free people from jail, meaning he used a single property as collateral for more than one bond at the same time.

He has also had a long association with the longshoremen's union.

According to federal court records, in the late 1980s, Tillman Jr. reported that he earned $35,744 for work as a stevedore, or longshoreman, although the work was performed by another man, Harold Coleman.

Coleman used Tillman's membership in the longshoremen's union, which the bondsman has held since the 1970s, to get work, while Tillman kept the union benefits, including health insurance and vacation pay. The checks were made out to Tillman, which Coleman cashed for a time at a tavern owned by Patricia Black, Tillman's mother.

Black also helped her son hide income from property purchases and businesses, according to an unreported opinion from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Tillman has had several other brushes with the law over the years: He was convicted of failing to file tax returns from 1990 to 1992; attempted bribery of a member of Baltimore's zoning board, which was trying to close Tillman's nightclub; and obstructing justice by not reporting to Maryland authorities a conviction in New Jersey.

Tillman had pleaded guilty to eluding a trooper on the New Jersey Turnpike while he was on probation in Maryland and prohibited from leaving the state without permission. The trooper had reported seeing a bag of marijuana in the car.

Convictions for those crimes and time spent in federal prison have not stopped the expansion of Tillman's holdings, now heavily invested in real estate.

In the early 1990s, federal authorities reported that Tillman owned a bail bonds business, a teen nightclub, called Odell's, and an interest in 31 residential rental properties.

Although the club has closed, property records show that Tillman and his family's real estate holdings have more than doubled since then.

In addition to "building 1200A, Berth 12" at the Dundalk Marine Terminal, IRS agents searched:

* 2332 E. Monument St., headquarters of Tillman's bail bonds company, 4 Aces.

* 1003 Greenmount Ave., the building owned by the Kafouroses, which they acquired for $0 in 2000, two years after "Crazy John" reportedly fled to Greece.

* 2410 Pinewood Ave., owned by Milton Tillman III and his ex-wife, Sandra Stansbury.

* A 2001 Buick Regal.

* 3818 Kimble Road, owned by Lorraine M. Stansbury and in the same block where Milton Tillman III was shot in a drug-related dispute.

* 1101 North Point Blvd., a business address associated with New Trend Development Corp., one of Tillman's real estate ventures.

A source familiar with the inquiry, who is not authorized to speak publicly about it, said the search-and-seizure warrants contained "standard boilerplate language" seeking financial and business records.

melissa.harris@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Gus G. Sentementes contributed to this article.

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