Prince George's County State's Attorney Arthur A. Marshall Jr. said yesterday he has decided against prosecuting State Sen. Tommie Broadwater on a charge of making false statements on affidavits in his work as a bail bondsman.
Marshall said he had determined that Broadwater signed affidavits declaring that he had no bail bond debts in recent months when he owed the courts thousands of dollars for clients who jumped bail. He said Broadwater had apparently committed an offense of perjury.
But Marshall said that he had decided against prosecuting Broadwater because "there was no evidence of criminal intent" in the state senator's actions.
Broadwater, a prominent Prince George's Democrat who ran on the party's organization slate with Marshall in 1974 and 1978, maintained that he never knew he was violating a law or doing anything improper by signing the affidavits. He said he always promptly settled his bail bond debts.
"There is no question that the affidavits were signed," Marshall said. "But apparently no [bondsman] was aware that it was illegal.There was no criminal intent. They just signed things as a matter of formality."
The affidavits Broadwater signed are required by Maryland court rules of all bondsmen who post bail for criminal suspects. The rule requiring the affidavits, which took effect in 1977, is designed to bar bondsmen from obtaining new business while they have outstanding debt judgments because of missing defendants.
Broadwater regularly has found all of his missing clients or paid their penalties, court officials said. However, Broadwater and at least one other Prince George's bondsman, Solomon Hamilton, apparently had delayed settling their debts at times while continuing their work, at the risk of breaking the law, according to court officials.
Marshall said a meeting was held for the county's bondsmen last Friday at which they were formally told they cannot continue their work while they have outstanding debts -- and sign the necessary affidavits -- without breaking the law.
Marshall said Robert Taylor, the official charged with supervising county bondsmen had never warned the bondsmen about making false statements on the affidavits and had never checked to see if they were violating the law.
Marshall said he has now asked Taylor to "advise us at any time that he believes a bondsman has violated the law."