Former housing authority director sentenced in bribery case

Ex-head of Havre de Grace agency gets 3 years' probation, 6 months in halfway house

April 26, 2011|By Peter Hermann, The Baltimore Sun

The former executive director of the Havre de Grace housing authority was sentenced Monday to serve six months in a halfway house and fined $1,200 for taking kickbacks from contractors to replace kitchen faucets in a residential complex.

U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. also sentenced the former director, George R. Robinson, 63, to three years' probation. The Bel Air resident had faced up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine after pleading guilty in January to bribing a public official, according to the Maryland U.S. attorney's office.

Prosecutors said in a statement that the FBI secretly recorded Robinson in 2009 asking for $1,200 from a contractor hoping to be awarded work at Somerset Manor, a subsidized housing project on Stansbury Court run by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Prosecutors said the contractor who gave Robinson the money got the contract. Prosecutors said the meeting at which the money exchanged hands was videotaped, and showed the contractor handing Robinson a bank envelope with the money in cash.

During the conversation, Robinson was recorded asking the contractor how "we could make some money off it," according to a statement of facts read into the court record during Monday's hearing. He told the contractor, identified in court documents only as "P.C.," "We had put four thousand dollars aside to do this" and that the contractor should "give me something out of this."

"When P.C. asked how much, the defendant initially responded, 'I'll leave that to you,' the court documents state. But then it appears Robinson changed his mind and said, "Ah, give me twelve," which the court documents say meant $1,200.

"While counting the money, Robinson made light of the fact that the contractor had shorted him by $100 on a prior occasion," the court documents state. "The contractor advised authorities that there were other occasions when Robinson had asked for and received kickbacks as a precondition to allowing the contractor to make improvements at the housing project."

Prosecutors said in the documents that the contractor complained he had not made as much money installing faucets as he had hoped, and Robinson replied by referring to the next job, saying, " 'That will be all yours,' meaning the defendant would not ask for a kickback for that one."

Robinson's attorney, David E. Carey, did not return messages seeking comment.

peter.hermann@baltsun.com

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