- The Washington Times - Monday, October 31, 2005

BALTIMORE — Former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, the once-powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, pleaded not guilty yesterday to federal charges of influence peddling in exchange for free contracting work on a new house and other favors.

“On all counts, not guilty,” Mr. Bromwell told U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grimm.

Mr. Bromwell’s wife, Mary Patricia Bromwell, also pleaded not guilty to charges for her role in the political corruption case, which is outlined in a 30-count indictment.

The Bromwells declined to comment as they left federal court. Attorney Robert Schulman said the family has received many calls from supporters and lawmakers wishing them “nothing but the best.”

W. David Stoffregen, the former chief executive officer of the contracting firm Poole and Kent Co., also has been charged in the indictment. Mr. Stoffregen’s initial appearance was scheduled for tomorrow.

The three are accused of racketeering, mail fraud and extortion.

The former senator also has been charged with making a false statement to FBI agents and four counts of filing false tax returns.

Mr. Stoffregen has been charged with one count of obstruction of justice relating to witness tampering.

Mr. Bromwell was indicted Oct. 19 after a more than two-year investigation into his relationship during the late 1990s and early 2000s with Poole and Kent, a mechanical contracting firm that won millions of dollars in state contracts while he was in office.

That relationship was so lucrative, the charges say, that Mr. Stoffregen offered Mr. Bromwell $80,000 a year in 2000 to stay in office rather than retire.

Unsealed court records show that Mr. Bromwell and Mr. Stoffregen initially were indicted in July, on two counts of wire fraud.

Authorities said the indictment was sealed because the investigation had not finished and that prosecutors were concerned about witness tampering.

A total of six persons have been charged in the probe.

David Jackman, a former project manager at Poole and Kent, pleaded guilty last week to lying to investigators.

Two others, Michael and Geraldine Forti, have pleaded guilty to charges related to a minority “front” company fraud scheme.

Mr. Forti pleaded guilty in a scheme to use his wife’s subcontracting firm to obtain valuable state contracts through its minority-owned status, and Mrs. Forti has pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return.

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