Bromwell Says He Accepts His Fate

By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 24, 2007

As a boy, Tommy Bromwell was eager to please, a favorite among the nuns at his Catholic grade school. Years later, that charm made him popular at his family's tavern in a blue-collar suburb of Baltimore and, at age 29, helped him win a seat in the state legislature.

A burly man known for his bravado and rhetorical punch, he ascended in Annapolis, first as a delegate and then as a senator, becoming one of Maryland's most powerful public officials. But the swagger that drove Thomas L. Bromwell's remarkable rise in politics is gone now as he plans to plead guilty this morning to federal racketeering and tax crimes.

On the eve of his plea, which will bring closure to one of the state's largest public corruption investigations in years and will probably result in a prison sentence, Bromwell said yesterday in a rare interview that he has come to terms with his fate.

"After seven years of going through what I'm going through, I'm prepared to do what I got to do. I'm going to court tomorrow," Bromwell said in a deep and raspy voice, making his first public comments in months.

Looking back on his career, Bromwell, 58, said he hopes the criminal case doesn't cast too long a shadow over his legacy. "I've got to believe that in 24 years I did something good," he said.

Bromwell declined to discuss the details of the long-running criminal investigation of his relationship with a prominent contractor.

When asked whether the investigation has taken a toll on his personal life, Bromwell, who has two young children, said: "Are you kidding? Come on. How would it affect your family?

"It is what it is," he continued, "and we'll get through it."

Bromwell's twin sister, Terry J. Havrilak, described her brother as humiliated over the case, which includes allegations that he helped a commercial contactor win government work in exchange for cash and other gifts. Most stinging, she said, was the public release in March of transcripts of a recording of a dinner conversation peppered with vulgarities.

"I think he's embarrassed," she said in a separate interview yesterday. "He's been upset. He's been down. He doesn't want his kids and his family to go through this. Anybody would be."

Bromwell's plea, to be entered this morning in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, marks the stunning fall from grace of the ambitious son of a bricklayer who many believed had the talent to rise to the state Senate presidency.

Former colleagues described Bromwell as gregarious and flamboyant -- refreshing qualities, they said, in the traditionally buttoned-up State House. He wore a clunky gold ring inscribed with the Maryland state seal. While other lawmakers raised money at bull roasts and golf tournaments, Bromwell hosted an annual "Jamaican Me Crazy" fundraiser at which guests wore floral shirts.

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