Former Chief of Baltimore City Division of Transit and Marine Services Pleads Guilty to Bribery Scheme
Took $20,000 to Cancel Debt Owed to City and Took $70,000 to “Sell” Government Property
Baltimore, Maryland - Barry Stephen Robinson, age 65, of Accokeek, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to two counts of bribery, and one count of money laundering, in connection with a bribery scheme perpetrated earlier this year while he was Chief of the Division of Transit and Marine Services of the Baltimore City Department of Transportation.
The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Baltimore City Inspector General Robert H. Pearre, Jr.; and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Kelly of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.
“Barry Stephen Robinson took a $20,000 bribe to cancel a $60,000 debt owed to Baltimore City, and a $70,000 bribe to allow the theft of city property worth $250,000,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “This sort of corruption can occur when dishonest people are trusted to handle valuable government property.”
“The amount of money Barry Robinson admitted to accepting demonstrates his willingness to line his own pockets in exchange for his influence, and his actions are why many people distrust the government. Any public servant who puts a price on his or her position doesn’t have the greater good in mind and they should be held accountable,” said Steve Vogt, Special Agent in Charge of the Baltimore Division of the FBI.
“Using his official position and the resources of Baltimore City, Robinson abused the trust placed in him in order to personally enrich himself,” said Thomas J. Kelly, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Washington D.C. Field Office. “IRS-Criminal Investigation stands committed to weed out individuals, such as Robinson, who take the path to financial enhancement through greed and corruption at the expense of those they serve.”
Barry Robinson was Chief of the Division of Transit and Marine Services of the Baltimore City Department of Transportation and supervised Baltimore City’s “Circulator” and “Water Taxi” programs. He had authority to approve contracts with advertisers and vendors and to purchase and pay for goods and services.
In the spring of 2013, Robinson received a check for $40,000 payable to the Baltimore City Director of Finance, in payment for advertising on Circulator buses. Robinson allegedly returned the check and proposed that for $20,000 in cash, he would cancel the $40,000 debt to the city and provide written documentation that it had been paid. The debtor declined the offer at that time. In January 2014, Robinson renewed his offer to extinguish the debt to the City of Baltimore. This time, he offered to cancel $60,000 of debt in return for $20,000 in cash. From January 23 to March 11, 2014, Robinson received four cash payments of $5,000 each. In return, Robinson provided a signed letter on Baltimore City letterhead falsely stating that the $60,000 debt had been paid.
Robinson also admitted that he took a $70,000 bribe to sell unused city bus shelters. In 2011, Robinson arranged for Baltimore City to purchase 13 bus shelters from a Canadian company for $249,290. On multiple occasions from May 2013 to March 2014, Robinson said since the city did not keep track of the shelters, he planned to sell them for his personal benefit. On April 9, 2014, Robinson accepted $70,000, in return for the city’s bus shelters.
Seeking to disguise the source of the bribery proceeds, Robinson deposited the cash bribe payments he received into two bank accounts in the name of another person, and used a portion of the proceeds to install carpeting, televisions and a range hood in his home.
Robinson faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for money laundering and 10 years in prison on each of two bribery counts. Chief U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled sentencing for March 27, 2015, at 10:00 a.m.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI, the Baltimore City Office of Inspector General and IRS-Criminal Investigation, for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara S. Sale, who is prosecuting the case.