Ex-Pension Trustee Tells of Pressure
Glendening Aide Cited in Chapman Trial
By Eric Rich
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 15, 2004; Page B02
BALTIMORE, July 14 -- A former trustee of the state pension board testified Wednesday that she felt "very uncomfortable" when a top aide to then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening joined in pressuring her to increase the pension portfolio of an investment banker with whom she had a romantic relationship.
But Debra B. Humphries insisted that the money manager, Nathan A. Chapman Jr., never tried to persuade her to do anything she considered illegal.
Chapman, who at one time managed the investment of $140 million in state pension funds, is accused of improperly investing millions of that money in his own struggling companies, losing $5 million in the process.
Humphries, testifying for the prosecution in Chapman's federal fraud trial, said Glendening's chief of staff, Major F. Riddick Jr., called her in 2000 and urged her to vote for restoration of funds the board had withdrawn from Chapman's control.
"He asked for my support in returning the funds," she said, recalling that there was "urgency in his voice."
The next year, she testified, Riddick called again, asking her to muster board support for a $100 million increase in Chapman's pension portfolio.
"In that conversation, he did tell me that we had to help Mr. Chapman out," Humphries testified. She said Riddick told her that the governor would lobby other board members himself.
"That phone call, I thought, was a lot more pressure," Humphries testified. "It was a very tense conversation. He just kept going on and on."
Chapman was viewed as politically close to Glendening, and he served as president of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents. Glendening later acknowledged his interest in becoming chancellor of the university system after his term as governor expired.
The pension board enlisted Chapman's money management services in part to comply with state requirements that minorities receive a portion of the investment business.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney William R. "Billy" Martin on Wednesday, Humphries said she felt "boxed" in by the pressure because of her secret romance with Chapman.
She said, however, that Chapman himself did not take advantage of their relationship to promote his financial interests.
"You never felt that Mr. Chapman had you in a position to use you on the pension board, did you?" Martin asked.
"No, I did not," Humphries replied.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company