- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A former Prince George’s County official has pleaded guilty to conspiracy in soliciting a $250,000 bribe to award a government contract, the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor said yesterday.

Robert L. Isom, a former deputy director of the county’s Environmental Resources Department and a one-time candidate for county council, entered the guilty plea in Prince George’s County Circuit Court.

Isom, 69, agreed to a statement of facts in support of the plea that implicated Robert L. Thomas, former deputy director of the Prince George’s County Office of Central Services, in the crime.

The grand jury investigation of the bribery scheme is continuing, said Maryland State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh.

Isom and Mr. Thomas solicited the payoff in the summer and fall of 2004 from Interior Systems Inc. (ISI), a D.C. firm that was designated as a minority subcontractor for ADT/Tyco to provide security systems at two county buildings, according to the statement of facts.

The bribery scandal rocked the county government in May when investigators seized files and computers from the offices of Isom and Mr. Thomas.

Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson fired Isom, who earned $93,303 a year. Mr. Thomas quit his $103,530-a-year job several weeks before the raid.

However, the probe added to the county’s corruption pains, coming on the heels of accusations that public schools Chief Executive Officer Andre J. Hornsby had steered a million-dollar contract to a company that employed his live-in girlfriend.

Mr. Hornsby resigned from the $250,000-a-year job in May amid an FBI investigation into the deal and before an outside audit that largely substantiated accusations of misconduct.

Isom’s plea included an agreement accepted by the court that stipulated he would cooperate with the investigation and will be sentenced to two years in prison, with one year suspended.

The sentence, to be handed down at the conclusion of the investigation, will include a $5,000 maximum fine and, upon his release from prison, three years of probation and 800 hours of community service.

The Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor conducted the probe with Maryland State Police and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The investigation involved surveillance, telephone taps and a fake bank account used by investigators to track the disbursement of the bribery money.

According to court documents, Isom approached an ISI executive last September, after the firm’s presentation to a county panel reviewing bids for the security system contract. He said he would introduce the executive to Mr. Thomas, who could help ISI win the contract.

The next day, Isom called the executive and said, “Will ISI and ADT play?” The executive said they would play, as long as they knew the nature of the game, according to the statement of facts.

Isom and Mr. Thomas then worked in concert to extract the payment, which was to be repaid to the company through contract change orders, the document stated.

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