News

Executive Director of the Havre De Grace Housing Authority Pleads Guilty to Bribery


Crossed a “Bright Line” by Taking Payments from a Government Contractor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 3, 2011

Baltimore, Maryland - 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.

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