A former employe of Maryland state Sen. Tommie Broadwater's supermarket in Prince George's County testified today that his name appeared on cashier records as responsible for processing $1,300 in food stamps from market customers several days after he had quit his job there.
Ex-employe Leon Holmes, who earlier this week was the object of a controversial late night visit at his home by Broadwater, testified in federal court here that he quit work at the market on Feb. 19. But prosecutors introduced cash register total sheets bearing Holmes' name on Feb. 21, 22 and 26.
Holmes' testimony was part of complex financial evidence assembled by prosecutors to show what they say was a book-rigging scheme by Broadwater and four codefendants to launder $70,000 in illicitly obtained food stamps through Broadwater's store, the Chapel Oaks Farmers Market in Fairmount Heights.
At another point in his testimony, Holmes, a professional meatcutter, said records showing he processed up to $2,000 in food stamps in a single day earlier in February at the market's meat counter were not accurate.
"Why?" asked prosecutor James P. Ulwick.
". . . It would have been a total wipeout of the meat supply ," said Holmes.
Under cross-examination by Broadwater attorney R. Kenneth Mundy, Holmes acknowledged the "wipeout" referred only to the meats on display in the store's showcase and that there was an additional $10,000 to $15,000 in meats held in the storage area.
Holmes also said it was "possible" he sold $2,000 in meats for food stamps on Feb. 4, as indicated in market records, because meat sales tend to be greater in winter, when families dine out less frequently, and at the beginning of the month, when food stamp sales are greater.
The Chapel Oaks Farmers Market is at 5354 Sheriff Rd., in a relatively poor area of Prince George's County where there is a large number of food stamp recipients.
Holmes and other market employes also testified that cashiers commonly swapped food stamps and cash among cash registers when cashiers ran low on cash or the store manager needed cash to pay for wholesale food deliveries.
Because of this informal swapping, they said, some cash registers were left with more food stamps at the end of the day than had actually been processed at those particular registers.
Another market employe, cashier Carol Turner, testified that the adding machine tape on her cash register indicated that on Feb. 19, for example, a total of $3,055.70 in groceries had been purchased by only seven customers. But she added that the customer count on the tape was not necessarily accurate.
A brief stir erupted in the courtroom earlier this week when Mundy acknowledged to reporters that Broadwater had visited Holmes' residence in Arlington on Tuesday night, three days before Holmes was scheduled to testify against the senator.
Mundy denied news accounts that quoted Holmes as saying Broadwater asked Holmes why he was "out to get him." Mundy said Broadwater had gone there only to get Holmes' then-unknown telephone number--a routine procedure in trial preparation to allow attorneys to talk to opposing witnesses prior to their testimony--"and there was no intimidation or threat." Mundy added that he may have made a "misjudgment" in agreeing to let Broadwater go to Holmes' residence rather than going there himself. He said he was unavoidably "tied up" and could not go.
Neither Broadwater nor Holmes would discuss the incident today.
Broadwater, his 21-year-old daughter Jacqueline and three Washington area men are charged in the case with conspiracy to obtain $70,000 in purportedly stolen food stamps from an undercover Secret Service agent posing as a food stamp thief.
Undercover agent Norman James testified earlier this week that he was tipped to an illicit food stamp trafficking operation at a defunct funeral home in Northwest Washington. He said he penetrated the group and arranged the sale of four batches of marked food stamps for about 40 percent of their face value to three suspects, William Dudley, 49, of Landover; Raymond (Big Jack) Quigley Sr., of Fairfax, and his son, Raymond Jr., 49, of Clinton.
Other agents testified they trailed Dudley as he made deliveries of a briefcase purportedly containing the food stamps to Broadwater.
Broadwater in turn processed the stamps through his market and redeemed part of them at their full value through his bank, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors also contend that Broadwater's daughter assisted in the alleged conspiracy by making fictitious entries in the market's financial records, but there has been no testimony yet on that aspect of the case.
The trial, now in its eighth day, is to continue Saturday.