From the Office of the U.S. Attorney for Maryland and the Department of Justice:
BALTIMORE, MD—George R. Robinson, age 61, of Bel Air, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to bribery of a public official.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge Ken Taylor of the Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General – Office of Investigations.
“A ‘pay to play’ culture diminishes public confidence in government and harms honest businesspeople who refuse to pay bribes,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Government employees cross a bright line when they take money in return for government business.”
According to his guilty plea, Robinson has been Executive Director of the Havre de Grace Housing Authority (HDGHA) since 2002, and was responsible for its day-to-day operations, including the management of Somerset Manor, a 60 unit public housing project in Havre de Grace. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided rental subsidies which paid for the housing project’s capital expenditures and monthly operating expenses. Robinson was responsible for overseeing the spending of the rental subsidies, including obtaining bids and awarding contracts for improvements to the housing project.
According to the statement of facts, on May 28, 2009, Robinson had a meeting at the housing project with a contractor to discuss replacing the kitchen faucets in all of the units. During the conversation, which was recorded by the FBI and HUD-Office of Inspector General (OIG), Robinson asked the contractor for a kickback of $1,200 from the $4,000 set aside for the project, which Robinson subsequently awarded to the contractor. On June 11, 2009, at a meeting that was videotaped, the contractor met Robinson at the housing project and gave Robinson a bank envelope containing $1,200 in cash. While counting the money Robinson made light of the fact that the contractor had shorted him by $100 on a prior occasion. 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.
Robinson faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or three times the amount of money accepted, which ever is greater. U.S. District Judge Williams D. Quarles, Jr., has scheduled sentencing for April 26, 2011 at 1:00 p.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI and HUD-Office of Inspector General for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Martin J. Clarke, who is prosecuting the case.
This guy has brought shame to his city and his fellow employees. I hope he receives a sentence that shows others that “pay to play” does not pay well or enough to have to go to jail over.
This is a shame to the citizens of HdG. Perhaps now, the city will institute a landlord registration process that requires annual inspections with clearly defined rules/regs and more oversight. While this suggestion won’t completely eliminate “dirty” individuals from acting illegally, it should make it far more difficult for anyone to repeat this action.
For many years, several prominent landlords of HdG have been able to get away with getting paid by renters in cash off the books, failing to make requisite repairs to be in compliance with fire/safety codes, etc… HDG zoning has given the appearance of being virtually non-existent with respect to clamping down on some of these landlords. How many houses in downtown HDG look crappy from the street which detracts from the scenic beauty of the city. How many landlords have illegal apartments in those old Victorian houses.
Its time to citizens of HDG expect more from their city, and for the citizens to assist their city officials in “turning in” those landlords they know who are thumbing their noses at the city.
I moved away from downtown HdG to get away from this kind of crap. I still do business there, including spending my $ at stores, thus I have an interest in seeing things improve. I wish the best for the city.
Edmund Picard says
Hopefully this puts the town’s landlords, both business and residential on notice that the behavior accepted by the citizens of HDG will not be accepted by the taxpayers of Harford County. I bet one former and one current Mayor are sweating it should Mr. Robinson decide to cooperate with the government, you know they have a way of convincing folks to get on their bus. Must have been a bigger problem for them to go all the way up there for a $1,200 bribe. Can’t wait to see what happens.
To accuse the current Mayor of being dishonest is total Bull Shit. The citizens of Havre de Grace (finally) have someone who loves being mayor and does not have an eye on other office .
Edmund Picard says
You are child like in you’re response. Your simpleton’s belief amuses me to no end. I bet you think our water bill is going down along with the tax rate. Maybe the landlords will voluntarilly inspect their shacks that keep our appraisals so low. But keep reaching for the stars, they need people like you.
They should go to Aberdeen next and get that zoning woman next. Talk about pay to play. Makes the $1200 in HdG look like pocket change to what she’s gotten.
Todd Holden says
put all the sonsabitches on alert, Bel Air as well, good work in Havre de Grace…let’s put the feet to the fire. And by the way, Bel Air, Aberdeen, et al…if the shoe fits wear it…otherwise, shut up
Where were you when Jesse Bane refused to investigate and fire Mark Forwood?
Todd Holden says
you’re comparing apples to oranges
. use your real name, like some of us do.
Phil Dirt says
Oh, that’s mature Mr. Internet Policeman. Why would anyone use their real name when there are folks who don’t hesitate to call them peckerheads at the first sign of disagreement. Who knows what else they are capable of (besides avoiding their Shift key)?
Phil Dirt says
Please note that Mr. Holden’s contribution was edited to remove the derogatory phrase mentioned in my reply after my comment was posted.
As a representative of the Dagger, I’m surprised at your language. I’ll be reporting your abusive language.
Lets review the case.
Mark Forwood was 3rd in Command of Sheriff’s Office.
Mark Forwood’s salary was approximately $107,000 a year not including his car and benefits.
In April 2010, Mark Forwood was caught red handed stealing from Home Depot.
Jesse Bane had the option to suspend Forwood without pay or fire Forwood.
Jesse Bane kept Forwood suspended With Pay.
Mark Forwood collected his pay and benefits while sitting at home from April through November.
Other Officers at the Harford County Sheriff’s Office had to pick up Forwood’s duties.
Jesse Bane refused to run an investigation into Forwood.
Jesse Bane stated that he couldn’t fire Forwood because of Union rules.
In November after the election, Jesse Bane fires Forwood after he is arrested a second time for theft.
Have I missed anything Todd?
Al J Thong says
Rinohunter- well said. I don’t think that in the future Todd will have any credibility in this medium or any other.
Todd Holden says
reply to rino, ‘have i missed anything, Todd?’
just your name Rino, just your name,
Hodd Tolden says
You tell ’em Todd!
Judging from your post. I agree with you that Jesse Bane is a corrupt politician. The only reason he was elected is because of the strong RINO “good ole boys” presence in Harford County. Had it not been the support of David Craig & Jim McMahon, both former Democrats, and the Deputies Union, i.e Fred Visnaw and Company, Bane would have lost easily.
Lets see, a trustered and appointed powerful public official stealing. You’re right Todd, doesn’t sound like the Forwood case at all…Oh, you must have meant it differs at the point where your buddy Jesse Bane wanted to cover it up instead of fire Forwood. I see now, apples and oranges, one you are friends with the other you’re not.
Dave Yensan says
I think all of us were led to think that this guy is an employee of the city of Havre de Grace. I have my doubts. I haven’t been able to check with anyone in the city but a second read of this article leads me to now think he is a federal employee.
Dave Yensan says
I just had a phone call returned. Mr. Robinson is in fact a federal employee. The City of Havre de Grace has absolutely nothing to do with this. If you check he is a HUD employee, one of Obamma’s hoodlums.
NEWS FLASH: Actually it says he’s been there since 2002. Wouldn’t that make him a Bush wanker instead of an Obamma hoodlum?
Dave Yensan says
That makes him someone who came there while W was in office but his boss now is Barry. If he had been hired while a former Mayor was in office, and was in fact working for the city, the current Mayor and Council would be getting the heat from here.
I just had a phone call returned — What a load of BS this website offers. Ignorance, racism, uneducated, lack of humility BS!
Dave Yensan says
Gee Theoted, I didn’t know you cared. Thanks so much for providing some useful information or dialogue for the rest of us.
Bill Bailey says
Havre de Grace has laws in place to make sure properties are up to “Code” The problem (IMHO) is Selective Enforcement.
What HdeG has is a city hall full of Employees who act out their small minded pettiness but, do not live in Havre de Grace
I liked the “Mr. Internet Policeman” thing, that was funny.
Edmund Picard says
You folks are missing the bigger issue here. HDG’s elected officicals really,really catered to Mr. Robinson. He offered them access/votes in the minority community. Just think what the other “local” landlords could provide to those officials, and hence demand in return. It’s a much larger systemic problem that has gone on for far too long. Hopefully Mr. Robinson will talk and the crust of that problem will be broken and other culpable landlords will be held accountable. It’s amazing how the federal government can convince people to cooperate when they discuss their lengthy sentences without parole.
Wasn’t there a fatal fire recently in HDG in a multiunit rental property. Was anybody held accountable for that property what has been a problem for years?
Wait a minute says
Edmund, as a former HdG “elected official” and someone who still serves on city commissions, I must inform you that I have personally never met Mr. Robinson. He is not a city employee. He works for HUD. We have no control or say on how he performs his job. The houses are property of the U.S. government. Good luck trying to fine Uncle Sam for code violations.
WAIT A MINUTE, I hope you are subpoenaed as a witness, if you have any knowledge of these matters.
HDG has been a good ole boy small city for ages. Many of the elected officials there are retreads, in that they keep running unopposed and keep getting re-elected despite having ZERO meaningful accomplishments. Several of the current elected officials are landlords and have a lot of income rolling in through rental properties…they also have many influential friends who own rental properties there too. It is silly to think many of these elected officials are ignorant or unaware of Mr. Robinson or others who committed similar type crimes.
I can’t wait for the HUD OIG and FBI to dig deeper, and start serving subpoenas on witnesses. This may finally put the Kibosh on business as usual for the good ole boys. I hope the IRS and MD Dept. of Taxation gets involved. There are way too many landlords in HDG, some of which may be current elected officials, who get paid in cash by tenants. Does anyone think these landlords actually declare this income on their taxes? HDG is a city with what, 40% rental properties…..that is about 15% too many, which is why the city is in crappy condition. Then landlords really aren’t compelled to keep their properties asthetically pleasing. Look at that crap @ Market and Bourbon just down the street from the fire house.
Way too go FEDS!!!!!
Edmund Picard says
You nailed it. It’s about time the tree got shaken. I do beleive you are wrong about the percentage of rental property down town however, I beleive it’s actually around 75%. Most of those dwellings have asbestos, and are fire hazards. I also agree with your thoughts that business is transacted in cash.
In light of your remarks, look at who has access to our elected officials and commisson members, it sure isn’t the tennants or taxpayers. Lets include the Attorney General is the list of offices that should look into matters.
I’t a mistake to shake Mr. Robinson’s actions off because he was with HUD. Those citizens in Somerset were and are citizens of HDG, and they vote. Hopefully we don’t let those responsible for enforcing such violations continue to put their heads in the sand.
Mr.Robinson was a pawn in a game played by the very employees that he gave jobs to.The issue at Somerset Manor goes deeper than George,he just got caught up in the system we’ve all come to know as GREED!I’m sure there will be more to come from this,FED’s don’t just show up with videotaped evidence for $1,200!
Steve (a different one) says
It appears that he also doesn’t believe in paying his speeding tickets.
$1200!!?! What could possibly be the point of taking bribes for such small amounts of money when you can wind up in the kind of trouble this fool is in now?? Why does it seem that the “small time” criminal mind is often synonomous with small brain. He was probably trying to support a gambling habit (or worse), unless he just got a rush from swindling people or abusins his “power”. What a loser…he’ll be paying for something now…
Oops, meant “abusing” his power. Pardon my “abusins” the English language.
The contractor was willing to do the job for $2,800, the “set aside” $4,000 payment less the $1,200 kick-back. This $2,800 would generate enough profit to make it worth his while to perform the task, so I consider $2,800 a reasonable market price for the job.
Had this been a private housing company instead of HUD, they would have gotten competitive bids and gone with the lowest bidder, who probably would be somewhere around the $2,800 market price. Since it’s a government agency and they don’t have to worry about money, somebody just plugged $4,000 for the job, which is about 43% over the market price. And the funding comes out of your pocket, from taxes and higher federal defecits.
Don’t have to worry about money??Someone has never been to the neighborhood.No playground for the children,potholes,doors that don’t open and close properly(some of which don’t have deadbolts)Take a ride through and enjoy the landscaping(dirt for that matter).For it to be federally funded i can’t tell,except for the 20 or so security camera’s,oh yeah,half of which don’t work!