Ex-Md. Lawmaker Facing Charges Steps Down from Workers’ Comp Fund

December 28, 2006

Former Maryland state Sen. Thomas Bromwell has agreed to step down at the end of the year as head of the Injured Workers’ Insurance Fund under a separation agreement announced by the organization’s board of directors.

Bromwell will receive two years of his $200,000 salary as president and chief executive officer and health benefits for 18 months, the board said in a statement.

Bromwell, who was once one of the most powerful lawmakers in Annapolis, and his wife, Mary Patricia, are charged in an alleged racketeering scheme involving minority contracting fraud while he was in office. They have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to go on trial early next year.

He has served as president and CEO of IWIF since April 2002 and was credited with helping lead the company to one of its most successful financial years on record in 2006.

“The board expresses its sincere appreciation to Thomas Bromwell for his exceptional leadership … and wishes him a successful outcome of his trial, which we recognize will require his undivided attention,” chairman Daniel McKew said in a statement. McKew will serve as the company’s senior executive while it searches for a new CEO.

The Bromwells were indicted in October 2005 after a probe lasting more than two years into the former senator’s relationship during the late 1990s and early 2000s with W. David Stoffregen, the former president of Poole and Kent. The mechanical contracting firm won millions of dollars in state contracts while Bromwell was in office.

Prosecutors claim Bromwell received more than $85,000 in construction work on a new house in 2000 and 2001 that Stoffregen provided for free. Stoffregen also allegedly gave Bromwell’s wife more than $192,000 from 2001 to 2003, for a no-show job at Namco Services Corp.

The arrangement was so lucrative for the contractor, prosecutors allege, that Bromwell was persuaded to postpone his retirement from the Senate in exchange for the payments that were disguised as Namco salary payments to his wife.

Bromwell was a Baltimore County Democrat who spent four years as a member of the House of Delegates before serving in the Senate for 19 years. He was the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee until he left the General Assembly in 2002. He was then appointed president and CEO of the Injured Workers Insurance Fund, Maryland’s largest provider of workers’ compensation insurance.

Stoffregen pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud and filing a false tax return in November. Geraldine Fort, 57, and Michael Forti, 58, pleaded guilty last year to filing a false tax return. Michael Forti also pleaded guilty to mail fraud in connection to his participation in the Namco minority contracting fraud scheme.

Jeanie Ashfield-Testa, 63, Stoffregen’s office manager, pleaded guilty in October to concealing a felony from federal law enforcement in connection with false expense reports submitted by her boss.

David Jackman pleaded guilty in October 2005 to making a false statement to the FBI by saying he had always intended to bill Bromwell for work performed at the senator’s home.

James Eick, 49, pleaded guilty in November 2005 to mail fraud in connection with kickbacks on construction projects at a downtown Baltimore building — projects that involved a construction company owned by Bromwell.

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