First, there were his condominiums in Florida and Hawaii. Then his Porsche and two Mercedes-Benz cars, not to mention his six racehorses valued at more than $500,000. And of course, his fully paid $225,000 home in a discreet north Baltimore neighborhood.
All this on a salary of $66,700 a year? Not likely, according to Baltimore police and civil and criminal documents filed in court here.
The salary, until his suspension this week, was that of Richard W. Gartin, 41, a midlevel executive for the Chessie Systems Railroads here. He was arrested Monday and charged with embezzlement in an alleged scheme that siphoned more than $2.7 million from the company through phony freight damage claims that company officials say kept them fooled for five years.
Gartin, who was freight claims director for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co., a Chessie affiliate, originally was held in lieu of $1.5 million bond after his arrest.
He was released today on $300,000 bond after a bail review hearing in Baltimore District Court in which prosecutors warned that Gartin's far-flung properties and other assets -- which were enumerated in a statement of his personal net worth filed with the court -- could cause him to flee the state.
At the 40-minute hearing, prosecutors painted a picture of a low-key corporate bureaucrat who had quietly ploughed thousands of dollars into property and horse racing investments throughout the country.
Prosecutor David L. Palmer told Judge Alan M. Resnick that Gartin was worth at least $1 million. He said also that Gartin periodically leases a private jet and that his wife, Sharon, has a pilot's license.
Just 24 hours before the hearing, B&O attorneys obtained a court order freezing the Gartins' Maryland assets and filed a civil lawsuit for the $2.7 million allegedly embezzled and $5 million in punitive damages.
In the B&O's lawsuit and in the statement of Gartin's worth, he and his wife are said to own all or part of condominiums in Hallandale, Fla., and in Honolulu, worth $130,000; six horses, including one named Straight Shot, valued at $350,000; two Mercedes-Benz and a Porsche; $80,000 in stocks and $150,000 in jewelry, furs and furniture. In addition, the B&O lawyers allege, Gartin paid off his $225,000 house on Taplow Road in Baltimore with a $78,000 check in November shortly after a phony $94,190 freight damage claim was rigged at B&O. The lawsuit says that between 1979 and late 1984, more than 140 phony freight damage reimbursement checks were written, totaling $2,720,000. The suit says fictitious paper work was created to support issuance of the checks, including names of shipping claimants, dates of accidents and references to at least one train derailment that did not occur.
According to the lawsuit, Gartin's father-in-law, Kendall H. Rollins, was named as the claimant in the phony damage claims.
When the railroad issued damage checks in periodic batches, the suit said, "any and all checks payable to Kendall H. Rollins [were removed] from the ordinary course of the railroad's outgoing mail."
Next, the suit said, Rollins' signature was forged on the back of the checks, which were then cashed or deposited in various unspecified accounts.
Baltimore police detectives filed a statement in court saying Gartin acknowledged devising the scheme but stressed that Rollins, who has not been charged in the case, did not know about it.
Gartin's attorneys said today neither they nor Gartin would comment.